On Tuesday, the Arizona Coyotes were in Edmonton to start a long road trip against the Oilers. They won’t play in Arizona again until the season opener at Gila River Arena. Road games tend to be more simplified with players not as worried about the home crowd. Maybe because they were on the road, or maybe because things are starting to click in the preseason, but the Coyotes managed to play a solid game that they will likely be looking to replicate throughout this season.
Arizona had one mission against the Edmonton Oilers, to win. They managed to get that win 4-2 with goals from Lawson Crouse, Michael Bunting, Michael Grabner, and Derek Stepan. Balanced scoring is going to be key for the Coyotes this upcoming season, and they are getting goals from the players they need to be scoring. It’s not just the goalscorers, Vinnie Hinostroza, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Kyle Capobianco, and Clayton Keller are all players that the Coyotes need to generate offense this season and they all registered assists. Arizona also was the more disciplined team, only taking two penalties, and as we’ve come to expect the penalty kill was perfect.
That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement, there very much is. The Oilers gifted the Coyotes with four penalties, including a double minor against Darnell Nurse, and the Coyotes power play failed to convert on any of the attempts. If a team is going to give you that many opportunities you need to convert, especially if you only have a two goal lead. If they had just not scored that would have been one thing, but during the four minute power play Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would score short handed, cutting Arizona’s lead in half. The Coyotes were also destroyed in the faceoff circle, winning only 30% of the draws.
Tonight the Coyotes will face another team that finished below them in the standings last season, the Vancouver Canucks. But just because the Canucks finished fourth from the bottom in the Western Conference doesn’t mean the Coyotes, or any team, should sleep on them.
Vancouver is led by a lot of intriguing crop of young players like Brock Boeser, who has two twenty-goal seasons under his belt despite not playing 70 games in a season yet, and Bo Horvat who has scored twenty in the past three seasons. They also added J.T. Miller after a down season in Tampa Bay where he was limited to just 13 goals. Before last season, he scored at least 20 in his past three seasons.
Player to Watch
Arizona: Derek Stepan - A lot of Coyotes players are looking for a bounce-back season, and Derek Stepan is no exception. Last season he had only 35 points, despite hitting 50 for the previous five seasons. So far he has 2 goals in the preseason.
Tonight’s game in Vancouver will start at 7:00 pm Arizona time. It will be available on the NHL Network. It also is shown to be listenable on Fox Sports 910 AM, but it said that Tuesday too so who knows?