The Arizona Coyotes’ road trip is coming to an end tonight, with just one more game left before they play at home again. It has been a tough road trip, with way more downs than ups, but thankfully, it has come to an end.
Arizona comes into tonight’s game still looking for their first win of the season. The Coyotes have played some good games against some tough competition, but they haven’t managed to put everything together to pull out a win.
The Coyotes’ biggest issue in their last game against the Philadelphia Flyers was their lack of offense. They got solid goaltending from Karel Vejmelka, but they couldn’t find the back of the net and were shut out 3-0, their third time of the season.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy solution for the Coyotes’ lack of offense. Arizona traded most of their offensive threats during the offseason, and players like Nick Schmaltz and Alex Galchenyuk have missed time with injuries. They still have players like Clayton Keller, Phil Kessel, and Jakob Chychrun, but everyone needs to step up when the team is struggling.
The Anaheim Ducks are an interesting team for Coyotes fans. Anaheim is also rebuilding and is about two to three years ahead of the Coyotes in that process. They have drafted plenty of young talent, and it’s just a matter of waiting for them to develop.
With the team still early in their rebuild, it makes sense that the Ducks didn’t do much tweaking during the offseason. They didn’t add much, with the most significant transaction probably being re-signing Ryan Getzlaf.
Despite finishing towards the bottom of the standings last season and the relative inactivity during the offseason, the Ducks have had a surprisingly hot start. Of course, it’s still very early, but they currently have a Wild Card spot in the Pacific Division and have won their last two games.
The Ducks have a 4-4-3 record to start the season. Their two most recent wins came against the Montréal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils, both teams at the bottom of their respective two divisions. So while the Coyotes have played multiple undefeated teams on this road trip, the Ducks have faced relatively easier competition.
But the easier competition doesn’t change the fact that the Ducks still won their games. Their 4-0 win over the Devils saw Anaheim score two power play goals and a short-handed goal. The Coyotes have had problems with special teams this season, and they can’t afford to give the Ducks, or any team, opportunity after opportunity to score.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Coyotes tonight is going to be goaltender John Gibson. Gibson has historically played well against the Coyotes, and he has had a solid start to the season. He has started eight games and has a 4-2-2 record, a .917 save percentage, and a 2.57 goals-against average. The Ducks could probably play with their AHL affiliate, and Gibson would still give them a decent shot at winning.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller had a relatively hot start that has started to slow. The Coyotes don’t have many pieces that can provide offense, and Keller is probably the Desert Dogs’ biggest offensive weapon.
Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf - Getzlaf had a goal and two assists in the Ducks’ 4-0 win over the Devils and is currently third on the Ducks with 10 points.
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz (upper body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (lower body), Ryan Dzingel (upper body), Alex Galchenyuk (upper body), Kyle Capobianco (lower body)
Anaheim: Jakob Silfverberg (illness), Rickard Rakell (upper body), Max Jones (pectoral)
Tonight’s game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will be in Anaheim. It will air on ESPN+, Hulu, and 98.7 FM.