Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was always going to be a tough match. Tampa Bay has been insanely good this season, and their win against the Coyotes was good enough for them to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy with nine games to go. Arizona would keep up with the Lightning for much of the game but Victor Hedman would ultimately get the game winning goal less then a minute into the third period.
Players may always say they don’t watch the standings, but fans definitely are this time of year. After the loss to the Lightning all eyes turned to the Minnesota Wild who are only one point behind the Coyotes. Minnesota would fall 3-1 to the Avalanche, which moves Colorado closer to Arizona’s spot, but kept Minnesota from overtaking the Coyotes. The Coyotes have a game in hand compared to the Wild, with less then ten games left in the season.
The Florida Panthers are not technically eliminated from the playoff race just yet, although most people put their odds very low. They didn’t do themselves any favors this past week , with losses to the Anaheim Ducks and the Dallas Stars. But they are a week removed from beating the San Jose Sharks 4-2 and the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Beating the Sharks is impressive, and the Kings have taken to role of spoiler so Florida’s win shows that they take all opponents seriously.
Surprisingly enough the Florida Panthers have one of the best offenses in the league. They have scored 233 goals this season, ranked ninth in the league. If you are looking for a reason why they don’t have a playoff spot though look no further then their 240 goals allowed, twenty-fifth in the league. Arizona needs to play a disciplined game tonight, Florida has the second best power play in the league. And while the Coyotes power play isn’t great, Florida’s penalty kill is ranked sixteenth so don’t expect Arizona to do much with the man advantage.
Games to Watch
The Dallas Stars (four points ahead of Arizona) are playing the Colorado Avalanche (two points behind Arizona).
Players to Watch
Arizona: Jason Demers - Demers spent one season with the Florida Panthers before the Coyotes acquired him in exchange for Jamie McGinn. He has been pretty good since returning from injury and will be looking to have a good game against the team that gave up on him.
Florida: Aleksander Barkov - Barkov had two goals against the Dallas Stars and surpassed 30 goals for the first time in his career.
Arizona: Derek Stepan (lower body), Kyle Capobianco (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (lower body), Antti Raanta (lower body)
Florida: Denis Malgin (lower body), Derek MacKenzie (shoulder)
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