The season is still young, but it is already a roller coaster for the Arizona Coyotes.
Arizona has played one of the top teams in the division, the Vegas Golden Knights, and some of the worst teams, the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks. So far, the results are mixed.
The Coyotes needed a big bounceback game on Thursday. Arizona had been shutout their previous two games, and the Coyotes seemed to carry that energy into the game. Anaheim was able to strike first and early and took the lead just 3:16 into the first period.
The second period would prove to be a big one for the Coyotes. The Coyotes scored tied things up with Christian Dvorak getting his second of the season less than halfway through the second.
That goal seemed to break the floodgates, and the Coyotes scored a pair of goals in the third period. It saw Conor Garland get his third of the season, and Dvorak notched his second of the night with less than five minutes left in the game on the power play.
A win on Thursday gave the Coyotes another two much-needed points. Through eight games, they have seven points, putting them at seventh in the West Division.
Seventh place means the Coyotes have a long way to go, but things aren’t as bad as it appears. The Ducks, Minnesota Wild, and Colorado Avalanche have all played two more games than the Coyotes, and the Blues have played one more. The Coyotes could use their games in hand to come back and push for a playoff spot, but they need to get all the points they can in the next few games.
Despite the condensed season, the Coyotes had a big break after the win. Arizona has been off since Thursday and has been able to rest and practice to prepare for the upcoming big road trip.
The Coyotes will be playing their next six games on the road. Those six games will be against some of the toughest teams in the West Division. Their next two games will be against the St. Louis Blues, then two against the Minnesota Wild, and finally two against the St. Louis Blues.
St. Louis was a bit of a question mark going into the season. Going into the season, they were considered a second-tier team in the division, behind the Avalanche and the Golden Knights. They also were expected to struggle without Vladimir Tarasenko, who will be out until early March with a shoulder injury.
Despite that trepidation, the Blues have started the season strong. They have a 6-2-1 record to start the season and lead the West Division with thirteen points. Covid-19 did postpone St. Louis’ last game against the Vegas Golden Knights, leaving the Blues with only nine games played.
The first of the three St. Louis losses should be familiar for Coyotes fans. The second game of the season saw them lose 8-0 to the Colorado Avalanche. Their other two losses were a 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks and a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Rookie goaltender Ville Husso is a question mark for the Blues. He gave up four goals on 14 shots when St. Louis put him in for the third period against Colorado. He started against the Los Angeles Kings and gave up five goals on 34 shots. At one point, it looked like the Blues had some of the best goaltending depth in the league, but that seems to have changed.
Despite the losses, the Blues are still a good team. They won their last two games against the Ducks 4-1 and 6-1, showing they can score and defend. Before facing the Ducks, they also beat the Golden Knights 5-4 in the shootout, proving they can beat the top tier teams too.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Christian Dvorak - Dvorak had two goals in the Coyotes’ last game, tying him with Conor Garland with seven points. The Coyotes need their best players to play their best, and Dvorak is one of those players.
St. Louis: Brayden Schenn - Schenn is one of the Blues’ best players and leads the team with 10 points. He had two goals in the Blues’ last games against the Ducks and is riding a 7-game point streak.
Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (lower body)
St. Louis: Tyler Bozak (questionable, upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)
Tonight's game will be in St. Louis at 6:00 pm Arizona time. It will be aired on Fox Sports Arizona and on Fox Sports 910AM.