The Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues are halfway through an impromptu seven-game series, and after four games in St. Louis, both teams are headed back to Arizona.
Arizona has been playing extremely well during the series, winning the past three games.
Monday’s game was unlike the previous in that the Coyotes needed to come back from behind. They did so three times, showing mental toughness and dedication not seen in past seasons.
It was probably the Blues’ best game of the series, getting offense while generating consistent pressure. Arizona was able to survive the Blues’ pushes, and with 0.7 seconds left, the Desert Dogs tied the game and won in the shootout.
The game-tying goal goes to show how important it is to play a full 60 minutes. Consistency can be an issue with the Coyotes, but with two final minute goals already this season, they have shown they will not go down without a fight.
It seems that the Coyotes and Blues have gotten to know each other. The Coyotes scored into pretty wide-open nets, while two of the Blues’ goals came after pulling Darcy Kuemper out of his net. We never see seven-game series during the regular season, and it is interesting to see how teams are adjusting their plans between games.
A big part of the Coyotes’ success has been the emergence of the “Short Leash” Line. The combination of Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, and Conor Garland is one of the Coyotes’ best lines in recent years, and in 4 games against the Blues, they have 13 points.
With the offense finally clicking, we also see an improvement in special teams. The Coyotes had two power play goals in the last game and five power play goals against the Blues.
On the other hand, the team has also had a great penalty kill. The Blues have had 17 power plays and only converted on one of them. The Coyotes’ taking that many penalties is an issue, but at least they are killing them off.
Tonight may also see the return of Coyotes’ captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson has been out since the January 16th game against the San Jose Sharks, a game which saw him register three assists.
The Coyotes have done well enough without their captain, winning five of the ten games during that time.
Without OEL, the Coyotes have had to rely on other defensemen for their offense. It has worked well for Jakob Chychrun, who is having a great season, but not as good for Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Christian Dvorak - Dvorak had a goal and an assist in the last game and scored in the shootout. With those two points, he is tied with Conor Garland with 13 points and leaves with 7 goals.
St. Louis: David Perron - Perron had a goal and a primary assist in the last game, his second two-point game against the Coyotes.
Arizona: Dryden Hunt (questionable, lower body), Drake Caggiula (questionable, lower body), Christian Fischer (upper body), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (probable, lower body)
St. Louis: Marco Scandella (questionable, upper body), Sammy Blais (questionable, undisclosed), Robert Thomas (thumb), Tyler Bozak (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)
Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena and will be on Fox Sports Arizona, ESPN+, and on Fox Sports 910 AM.