The Arizona Coyotes have a problem. They have had difficulties in finishing off their opponents and it has been coming back to bite them. And for the first time this season the Coyotes have lost three games in a row.
Things were going well for the Coyotes against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild have been a bad team this season, and the Coyotes were up 3-1 in the middle of the second period. But the Coyotes took their foot off the gas, and the Wild scored three unanswered goals, with the Coyotes falling 4-3 in regulation.
This past game, the Coyotes made some tweaks to their power play in an attempt to shake things up. Jakob Chychrun and Nick Schmaltz were moved to the top power play, while Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Clayton Keller played on the second unit. Unfortunately, the Coyotes were again unable to convert, and have now gone four games without scoring on the power play.
The Coyotes as of late don’t seem to be the same team they were just a few weeks ago. The passes aren’t as crisp, they can’t execute plays, and even when they are ahead they haven’t been dominate. Thankfully there is still plenty of time for the Coyotes to turn things around, but they are in the middle of an extremely tough month. And while they are still only a point out of the playoffs with at least a game in hand, they are going to need to right the ship soon.
Arizona starts a very difficult road trip tonight, one which will see them play the Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues, and the Wild on the road over the next four days. The schedule would be tough enough, if not for the fact they are playing the top-ranked team in the Eastern Conference.
The Washington Capitals look a lot like a team that is one season removed from winning the Stanley Cup. They are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, and have won their last six games. They also have one of the best offenses in the NHL and they currently lead the league with 74 goals scored this season.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Capitals is that their goaltending hasn’t been the best. Longtime-starter Braden Holtby isn’t looking too great and currently has a .898 save percentage and a 3.25 goals-against average, far below his career averages of .917 and 2.49. Rookie Ilya Samsonov has been good in his limited appearances though, with a .915 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average in 6 games. It’s a very limited sample size, but you have to imagine that Samsonov gets more starts if Holtby continues to struggle.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Vinnie Hinostroza - It took Hinostroza 15 games to get his first goal of the season, but he goes into tonight’s game with 2 goals in his last 3 games. The Coyotes need someone to step up, and as a pending restricted free agent, Hinostroza has all the reasons to play his best.
Washington: Alex Ovechkin - Ovechkin is currently third in the league in goals scored with 13 and he has four multi-goal games. At 34 you have to expect Ovechkin will start to slow down eventually, but it certainly isn’t happening this season.
Arizona: Jason Demers (questionable, lower body), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Washington: Carl Hagelin (questionable, upper body), Richard Panik (upper body)
Tonight’s game in Washington will be at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will be on NBCSN and Fox Sports 910 AM.