While the Arizona Coyotes still lead the Pacific Division, they lost a prime opportunity to get another two points against a weak team that was on a seven-game losing streak. The New Jersey Devils scored just over two minutes into the game, and though the Coyotes would tie it up once, they were held to just one goal. If only the Coyotes had another offensive difference-maker.
It’s hard not to think of the Coyotes as a completely different team tonight with the acquisition of Taylor Hall. But while Hall brings a lot to a team that is currently ranked 22nd in goals scored, he may take some time to adjust to the system and get going.
Despite being rather hot and cold all season, the Coyotes power play has been much better lately. The Coyotes’ lone goal against the Devils was on the power play from Alex Goligoski. Special teams are key for a team that struggles to score five-on-five, and a successful power play will definitely help the Coyotes as the season approaches the halfway mark.
If the Coyotes had gotten two points on Saturday, they would have had a bit more breathing room. The Edmonton Oilers won last night, and they are now tied with the Coyotes having played one more game. The Pacific Division is still wide open, and the Coyotes are going to need points when they get to stay on top.
After a slow start, the San Jose Sharks pulled the trigger and fired their head coach Peter DeBoer on December 11th. Under interim coach Bob Boughner they have lost 6-3 to the New York Rangers and beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.
While the Sharks aren’t likely to climb back up the standings, the Coyotes still shouldn’t take them lightly. They have four players with over ten goals already and four with 25 or more points.
The Sharks’ biggest weakness is definitely their goaltending. Martin Jones has struggled this season, and in 27 games played he has a career-low 3.30 goals-against average and .888 save percentage. Aaron Dell isn’t much better in his fourth season with the Sharks and has a 3.18 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Vinnie Hinostroza - Hinostroza started slow, but has been finding success lately. He had the Coyotes’ lone assist against the Devils, and he has four assists in his last two games.
San Jose: Evander Kane - Kane has been great in San Jose, and in only 32 games he already on his way to career-highs with 14 goals and 12 assists. He had a goal and an assist in the Sharks’ last game against the Canucks and he had an assist the last time the Sharks played the Coyotes.
Arizona: Jason Demers (knee), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
San Jose: Radim Simek (knee), Antti Soumela (upper body), Dalton Prout (upper body)
Tonight’s game starts at 8:30 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports 910 AM.