Before leaving for Alberta, most fans would have been happy with the Arizona Coyotes finishing the road trip with 3 out of 4 possible points. And while they will be returning to the desert with 3 hard-earned points, how it happened highlights some possible weaknesses that have caused some concerns.
In back-to-back games, the Coyotes seemed to fall apart in the third period. Against the Calgary Flames that went from at one point being up 3-1 to losing the game 4-3 in overtime. And while Calgary didn’t tie until late, you could see the ice starting to tilt early on in the third, with Arizona having difficulties clearing the zone and having their passes connect.
Special teams would prove to be the Coyotes killer against the Flames. The Flames had six power plays and were able to convert on two of them, including a goal late in the third period. If Calgary hadn’t have scored they likely wouldn’t have had the confidence to pull their goaltender so early and get the game-tying game.
When looking at the loss it is important to remember that Arizona was playing in the second game of a back-to-back. That shouldn’t be taken as an excuse, but mistakes tend to be amplified when a team is tired. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, November isn’t going to get any easier, and while they are home tonight they have three more sets of back-to-back games in November.
The penalty kill wasn’t the only thing to come up short on Tuesday. The Coyotes had five power play opportunities and weren’t able to score a single time with the man advantage. The Coyotes power play has been wildly inconsistent this season, and as games like this show, the power play can make or break the game.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled at the start of the season. They aren’t the worst team in the league, but if not for the New Jersey Devils they would be the worst team in the Metropolitan Division. It’s normally not a good sign if the most positive thing you can say about your season is “at least we aren’t last in the division.”
Columbus comes into Arizona riding a 5 game losing streak. The last time they won in regulation was October 16th when they beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 at home. That win was the second of two straight regulation wins, they previously beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on the 12th, and those two regulation wins are the only regulation wins that Columbus has this win.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel is starting to heat up with an assist on Christian Dvorak’s goal, and 4 points in his last 4 games. The Coyotes brought in Kessel to add to the offense, and it is great that he is finally getting started.
Columbus: Boone Jenner - Jenner had the Blue Jacket’s lone goal in their last game against the Vegas Golden Knights. He is currently second on the team in goals scored with 4.
Arizona: Jordan Oesterle (questionable, head), Brad Richardson (upper body), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Columbus: Alexandre Texier (questionable, knee), Markus Nutivaara (upper body), Ryan Murray (hand), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist)
Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena and will begin at 7:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports 910 AM.