The Arizona Coyotes started their season on the road, and they have not gotten the results they wanted. The Coyotes return home tonight for their season opener after dropping their first two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres.
There is no doubt that the Coyotes improved between games one and two, but they will need to be a lot better tonight if they want to win. This season, the Blues will be competing for a playoff spot, unlike the Coyotes’ first two opponents, who will be fighting with the Coyotes for the best lottery position.
Arizona is going to need to find a way to tighten things up tonight and maintain consistent pressure. They were on their back foot for much of the game against the Sabres, not allowing Buffalo to score but letting them set up in the offensive zone all game and dictate the pace.
The rough start is probably still a side effect of the team being so new and not having a chance to develop chemistry. The team’s passes aren’t connecting consistently, and players don’t seem entirely sure where their teammates are on the ice. But the Coyotes should improve as the season goes along and they have a chance to play with each other.
The Coyotes could not be a more different team than the Blues this season. While the Coyotes were getting completely blown up this offseason, the Blues are essentially the same team with a few minor tweaks.
They lost Vince Dunn to the expansion draft and Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman to free agency. They acquired Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers and signed free agent Brandon Saad to replace them.
Their biggest move for the offseason was one that they didn’t make. Vladimir Tarasenko had reportedly requested a trade back in July, but the Blues have yet to move the dynamic forward. Per the report, Tarasenko is upset at the team’s handling of his shoulder surgeries from 2018 and 2019, which doesn’t seem like a problem that will be going away anytime soon. But while the Coyotes may not have to see too much Tarasenko during the rest of the season, he is still playing tonight and still a dangerous piece of a good Blues team.
Continuing the trend of the Blues being unlike the Coyotes, the Blues have only had one game this season. And unlike the Coyotes, they won their game, beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-3.
Special teams were important in the Blues’ victory. David Perron scored the game-winning goal on the power play, and St. Louis’ penalty kill was able to keep the Avalanche off the scoresheet in their three opportunities. The Coyotes have allowed a power play goal in both of their first two games and have only one power play goal of their own despite having six opportunities.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Johan Larsson - Larsson currently leads the Coyotes with two points, and he is the only Coyotes player to register a point in both of the team’s games. He was vital to the Coyotes’ goal against the Buffalo Sabres, working hard to win the battle on the boards and keep the zone.
Blues: David Perron - Perron had two goals against the Avalanche, including the game-winner on the power play. He has played exceptionally well for the Blues and is already on pace for another 20+ goal season.
Arizona: Alex Galchenyuk (upper body), Kyle Capobianco (lower body)
St. Louis: Oskar Sundqvist (questionable, knee)
Tonight's game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and on ESPN 620 AM.