The Arizona Coyotes 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens was a disappointing, if not understandable loss. They had just returned from a four-game road trip to the East Coast, while the Canadiens last played three days ago at home. But at the end of the day, it was a loss, and probably the Coyotes sloppiest performances of the season.
Arizona started their game almost immediately down a goal. Brendan Gallagher managed to sneak the puck under goaltender Antti Raanta’s leg twenty-two seconds into the game. And while the Coyotes played fairly well the rest of the period, the second season would start with Raanta losing a skate blade and being unable to get back into position allowing Shea Weber a wide-open net.
It’s really tough to come back from a 2-0 lead, although the Coyotes have made it a habit as of late. You also have to imagine that being down after fairly unlucky goals is tough mentally for a team and may make the recovery harder. But teams get lucky when they get into positions to reap the benefits of that luck, and Arizona letting a team gain the offensive zone with that level of control less than a minute in is playing with fire.
Tonight is the second time in less than a month that the Coyotes will play the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche broke up the Coyotes win streak in October, and are the ones who gave the Coyotes their lone overtime loss.
Since that game, the Avalanche have been good, but have dropped some key games. A 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and last night’s 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars suggest there may be weaknesses in the team ranked third in the Central. Combine that win the fact that three of their nine games since they played the Coyotes went into overtime, you have to wonder if the Avalanche are going to start slipping.
If the Avalanche are beginning to struggle you can definitely look to injuries. The Avalanche have lost two of their top three forwards with lower-body injuries, with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen out indefinitely. Many people have accused the Avalanche of being top-heavy, and if you can shut down their top line you can effectively shut down them down. Last season the Coyotes showed how difficult it can be to lose your best players, and this may prove tough for the Avalanche’s to recover from.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Alex Goligoski - Goligoski has assists in his last two games and with the Coyotes’ recent run of injuries he has been a fair amount of ice time. In those past two game,s he played over 25 minutes, and he currently leads the Coyotes defensemen with 8 points.
Colorado: Cale Makar - The fourth overall pick in 2017 has had a great rookie season so far with a goal and 10 assists in 13 games. He is starting to join the Calder conversation, and if he keeps it up may take it over.
Arizona: Brad Richardson (doubtful, upper body), Jordan Oesterle (possible, head), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Colorado: Colin Wilson (questionable, upper body), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body), Mikko Rantanen (ankle)
Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena at 6:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports 910 AM.