Arizona came out strong on Saturday, with probably their best performance of the season. They looked good in all three zones, got scoring and good goaltending, and prevented St. Louis from having sustained pushback.
Like the two previous matches, the Coyotes got on the board first, this time with a goal from the “Short Leash” line and Jakob Chychrun. The line was born during this season, and given the two goals and three penalties they drew on Saturday, they seem to be working.
While Arizona's top line was generating offense, their fourth line was also getting things done.
Michael Chaput, Johan Larsson, and John Hayden haven’t scored any goals yet, but they were effective. Larsson dropped the gloves with Brayden Schenn in the second period and drew three penalties in the third. The fourth line doesn’t generate much offense, but there are other ways for them to make an impact on the ice.
The fight may be a sign that the series is getting more physical. Already we have seen injuries and both Drake Caggiula and Robert Thomas missing a majority of Saturday’s game. The series hasn’t been dirty yet, but the more two teams play each other, the chippier the games become.
The last game was the first time the Coyotes have gotten the chance to see rookie goaltender Ville Husso.
Husso didn’t look terrible and made 16 saves on 18 shots. Part of that low number was St. Louis working hard to protect their backup goaltender playing in just his fourth NHL game, but the Coyotes are going to need to work harder to hit the net.
But there are still plenty of other areas that the Coyotes need to clean up too.
St. Louis again had a commanding lead in faceoffs, winning 58% of the draws. On Saturday’s game, only Johan Larsson and Conor Garland had faceoff win percentages above 50%. The control that comes with winning faceoffs is massive, and the Coyotes have been playing with fire this series.
Arizona is also going to need to find a way to stay disciplined. Calls have been tight this series, with both teams having a total of 11 power plays.
The Coyotes had the majority of the power plays, having seven opportunities and converting on two, but St. Louis still had four power plays. St. Louis has far too many offensive weapons for that type of sloppy play.
Arizona should walk into tonight’s game with pride, knowing that they have already beaten the Blues twice. But the first game showed that the Blues can make adjustments to their game and that they won’t go down without a fight. Arizona should be confident now, and they need to make sure it doesn’t cross over into cockiness.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Conor Garland - The season is still early, but Conor Garland already in the conversation for team MVP. He had two assists in the last game and currently leads the team with 12 points in 11 games.
St. Louis: Torey Krug - Krug had an assist in the last game and two assists in Saturday’s meeting. With the occasional scoring issues, the Blues have been having their defensemen move up into the game, especially when they are down. That makes players like Krug all the more dangerous.
Arizona: Drake Caggiula (questionable, lower body), Christian Fischer (upper body), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (lower body)
St. Louis: Marco Scandella (questionable, upper body), Zach Sanford (questionable, flu), Sammy Blais (questionable, undisclosed), Robert Thomas (thumb), Tyler Bozak (upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)
Tonight's game will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and will also air on Fox Sports 910 AM.