The Arizona Coyotes are back in action tonight and have a simple target to accomplish: score. In their last two games, against the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks respectively, the Coyotes were shut out and fell to narrow 1-0 losses.
The two losses, however, were not entirely similar, with Rick Tocchet’s side managing just 16 shots against Vegas whereas it was a stout performance from Ducks goaltender John Gibson that kept out all 31 of their efforts at Gila River Arena.
The heat is starting to rise on the coach’s seat, with results needed to turn around the team’s slow start to the season. Prior to the season, the Ducks were viewed as potential bottom feeders in the West Division, and the Coyotes need to show that their last encounter was simply a one-off.
The match-up between the two could see another low scoring game, thanks to their respective goal scoring issues seeing the Ducks ranked dead-last in the league for goals per game (1.71) while the Coyotes sit just six spots above them (2.43).
Add to that an impressive ability by the Ducks to keep opposing teams out of the net with a third-best 2 goals against per game, and the Coyotes do have a tall order ahead of them once again.
Mistakes need to be cut out in the follow-up game, with too many giveaways allowing the Ducks some premium goal scoring opportunities, such as the Ryan Getzlaf breakaway and the Ducks’ goal in the first period.
If the Coyotes are going to start climbing back up the West Division standing, it has to start with a positive showing against the Ducks on home ice.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel has four goals in the opening seven games of the season and is one of the Coyotes’ best chances at breaking their scoring drought. If Phil ‘the Thrill’ is able to get going, he can still be a deadly force in front of the Ducks’ net and needs to put himself in strong positions to help his team hit twine.
Anaheim: John Gibson - Unsurprisingly, it’s the man that kept the Coyotes at bay through all 60 minutes of the first game between the two sides this season. Gibson is having a phenomenal start to the season with a 1.67 GAA and a .948 sav percentage, contributing to his 3-1-2 record. The Coyotes need to solve him if they hope to earn two points in the return game.
Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (lower body)
Anaheim: Sonny Milano (upper body), Josh Manson (oblique), Brendan Guhle (knee)
Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena and will be at 7:00pm Arizona Time. It will air on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and the radio on Fox Sports 910AM.