The Arizona Coyotes will host the New York Islanders tonight in the final game of their first homestand of the 2021-22 season. The Coyotes are still searching for the first win of the season, and it would be nice for them to get it at home in front of fans.
Arizona ran into issues on Thursday in their last game against the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have a relatively weak defense and were playing with their backup goalie, but the Coyotes were largely unable to convert, scoring only once in a 5-1 loss.
The goal came from defenseman Dysin Mayo, who was playing in his first NHL game. Mayo had been a staple of the Tucson Roadrunners, having played with the organization since they relocated from Springfield. He served as an alternate captain last season and this season before being called up from the Coyotes.
It is great to see players like Mayo step up and prevent the team from being shut out, but the Coyotes have veterans who need to do their part as well. The team will finish towards the bottom of the standings, but they need to find a way to stay engaged in games and keep improving despite what it says on the score sheets.
That means players like Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, and Nick Schmaltz generating offense. Hopefully, we will see more from new additions like Loui Eriksson, Andrew Ladd, and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Back in net for the Coyotes tonight will be Czech goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Vejmelka will be starting in his second straight game, and he will hopefully have more offensive support tonight.
The Oilers aren’t the best team in the NHL this season, but they are a hot team who were likely overplaying to protect their backup goaltender. The Islanders are a better team, but they are off to a relatively cold start with a 1-2-1 record.
Their one win came this past Tuesday when they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. However, they have also dropped games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers in regulation and lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime while the Coyotes were getting blown out by the Oilers.
It is a bit surprising to see the Islanders struggle right out of the gate until you look at who has been playing. Semyon Varlamov is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury, Lou Lamoriello likes his secrecy, and Ilya Sorokin has started all four games for the Islanders.
Sorokin was drafted by the Islanders in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and has spent much of his career in the KHL playing for CSKA Moskva. He made his North American debut last season, playing in 22 games and finishing with a 2.17 goals-against average a .918 save percentage. He’s a good goaltender who will benefit from the Barry Trotz system, but the 26-year-old netminder is struggling in full-time starter duty.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Andrew Ladd - Something we see a lot of in the NHL is a player going all out against the team that traded them. We saw it earlier this season with Max Domi’s three-point showing against the Coyotes, and we will hopefully see it again tonight as Ladd faces the team that traded him.
New York: Oliver Wahlstrom - Wahlstrom leads the Islanders in both goals and points with three, and he had a two-goal game against the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week. He’s playing in his second full NHL season and finished with 12 goals and 9 assists in 44 games last season.
Arizona: Alex Galchenyuk (upper body), Kyle Capobianco (lower body)
New York: Johnny Boychuk (eye), Semyon Varlamov (undisclosed)
Tonight’s game will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time at Gila River Arena. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona Plus and on Arizona Sports 98.7.