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Coyotes Game 18 Preview: Arizona Looks to Build Momentum Against Detroit

After a shootout loss to Columbus, the Coyotes hope to build momentum off of a close game as they take on the Red Wings.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Arizona Coyotes Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview

You have to give props to the Arizona Coyotes, they put up a great fight against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, but they lost. Again. Their record now sits at 2-13-2, good for dead last in the entire National Hockey League. They’ll meet the Detroit Red Wings in Arizona tonight before making their way to California to take on the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Thanks to the powerplay going perfect a couple of nights ago against the St. Louis Blues, it is not as poorly ranked as it has been for a large chunk of the season, currently sitting at 25th with a 15.6%. Despite this, they still rank dead last in all offensive categories like goals and shots on goal per game, and also defensive categories like goals allowed per game.

The Red Wings themselves aren’t the greatest offensive team, averaging 2.79 goals per game, which ranks them 17th in the league. They’re 26th in shots on goal per game, and their powerplay ranks just three spots higher than the Coyotes’, at 22nd. In addition, the team struggles defensively, ranking 29th in shots on goal allowed per game and 28th in goals allowed per game.

Scott Wedgewood is confirmed to start in net with the Coyotes. Since joining Arizona this season, he is 2-1-1, with a .933 save percentage to go with a 3.35 goals saved above expected (GSAx). He’s just been so good, and it’s hard not to ride the hot hand when he’s the only thing that has been hot with this team this season.

In net for the Red Wings, there is no confirmed starting goaltender. Alex Nedeljkovic is 4-3-2 with a .912 save percentage and 0.40 GSAx, while Thomas Greiss is 4-6-0 with a .901 save percentage and -0.70 GSAx. Nedeljkovic has been the better of the two, but we’ll have to wait for confirmation.

The Red Wings’ leading point scorer is rookie forward Lucas Raymond, who has 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) through 19 games played this season. Their leading goal scorer is Tyler Bertuzzi, who has nine goals through 16 games played and has been a massive piece to their offensive core, although he hasn’t scored a goal since November 7th, on a six-game drought.

The Coyotes’ leading point scorer is defenseman Shayne Gositsbehere, as it has been for most of the season. He has 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists) through 17 games played, averaging 20:49 time on ice. The team’s leading goal scorer is Lawson Crouse, who has five through 17 games played; he scored on Thursday’s loss to Columbus.

The Coyotes are hoping to see more of what Barrett Hayton showed against the Blues earlier in the week, where he scored two goals, including the game-winning one. He’s been quiet for the most part this season, and if he doesn’t pick it up soon, could he see a change in scenery?

Players to Watch

Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel has seemingly found his offensive stride as of late, currently riding a three-game point streak. He’s been playing with more motivation, and he’ll look to continue to build off that and gain trade value so the Coyotes can eventually move him.

Detroit: Dylan Larkin - He wasn’t named in the stat leaders for the Red Wings, but that’s only due to unfortunate injuries. Larkin has eight goals and 15 points through 15 games played and is definitely in the best form we’ve ever seen him in at the NHL level.

Injuries

Arizona: Anton Strålman (Day-to-Day - Lower-Body), Andrew Ladd (IR-NR - COVID), Carter Hutton (IR - Lower-Body), Johan Larsson (IR - COVID), Christian Fischer (IR - Upper-Body), Nick Schmaltz (IR - Upper-Body), Conor Timmins (IR - Knee), Dmitrij Jaškin (IR - Knee)

Detroit: Marc Staal (Day-to-Day - Illness), Jakub Vrána (IR - Shoulder), Mitchell Stephens (IR - Lower-Body), Troy Stecher (OUT - Undisclosed), Seth Barton (IR-NR - Undisclosed)

Puck Drop

The game will be at the Gila River Arena at 6 PM on BSAZ, BSDET, and 620 AM.