The Arizona Coyotes have started their three-game homestand strong. They have outscored their past two opponents 6-0, with Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta becoming the first goaltenders to post back-to-back shutouts in franchise history.
You would be forgiven if you were worried before the game against the Los Angeles Kings and thought it was a classic trap game. The Coyotes have had some recent troubles against weaker teams, losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets and twice to the Minnesota Wild. But the Coyotes played well, and for the second straight game, they managed to score three goals while allowing zero.
For the first time in a long time, the Coyotes’ power play was stellar. Derek Stepan would score his fourth of the season on the power play in the first, while Jakob Chychrun would get his fifth in the second period. Christian Dvorak, Phil Kessel, Conor Garland, and Nick Schmaltz would all get assists on those two goals. Garland would get the first goal of the season, with Dvorak and Schmaltz getting assists, giving three Yotes players having a multi-point night.
The Coyotes have been clicking as of late, winning four of their last five games. Arizona has moved to second in the division, and are currently three points behind the Edmonton Oilers with a game in hand. Kuemper and Raanta’s stellar play has been key to that, but hopefully, the Coyotes offense continues and the power play becomes more consistent.
If you are a hockey fan there is a good chance that you are sick of hockey news always seeming to center around the Toronto Maple Leafs. But they were the big story of the day yesterday for good reason, with the Leafs firing head coach Mike Babcock in the fifth year of an eight-year deal with Sheldon Keefe being named the new head coach.
Babcock’s firing didn’t completely come out of nowhere. The Leafs are currently fifth in the Atlantic Division and are riding a six-game losing streak. Most people predicted the Maple Leafs to do well in the Atlantic, possibly even win the division. The timing is a bit unusual though, the Leafs have played only two games of a six-game road trip.
It is tough to predict how the Leafs will be different under Keefe. Keefe coached the Toronto Marlies at home last night, in a game that saw them lose 2-1 in overtime. Coaching can take time, but it seems likely that everyone on the Leafs is going to try their best to impress the new head coach and hopefully secure ice time in the future.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Conor Garland - Garland scored the game-winning goal against the Kings and had an assist on Jakob Chychrun’s power play goal. Garland is the first Coyotes player to reach double digits in goals scored and is second on the team in points.
Toronto: Jason Spezza - Spezza’s offense has gone downhill in the past three seasons, but he isn’t terrible to start the season. He has two goals and an assist in his past two games, and three goals in his past five games.
Arizona: Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Toronto: Alexander Kerfoot (probable, teeth), Trevor Moore (shoulder), Mitchell Marner (ankle), David Clarkson (back), Nathan Horton (back)
Tonight’s game is at Gila River Arena and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.