Last night’s Arizona Coyotes game against the Colorado Avalanche was basically the season in microcosm. Things started okay, with the team playing well for the first 10 or 12 minutes. But things really dropped off after that, and things ended very badly.
Colorado scored two first-period goals, and that was all they needed. Arizona was in another scoring drought, and scoring three goals seemed out of the question. Even if the Coyotes managed to tie things up, scoring the third goal to secure the win seemed like an impossible task.
The one bright spot of the game may have been the Coyotes’ special teams. They were perfect on the penalty kill and scored a rare power play goal. A team can build success with special teams, but only if they are good at 5-on-5.
With this being the second game of a back-to-back, we could see some changes to the goaltenders.
Antti Raanta was okay in net, making some big saves to keep the score only 2-0. But the night ended with him smashing his stick against the goal, and since Adin Hill has been good this season, it could be his night.
Colorado’s goaltending situation is a bit more complicated. The Avalanche acquired Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres, and after seven games played, he is still looking for his first win this season. The Coyotes aren’t an offensive juggernaut, so the Avalanche may feel comfortable with their newly acquired netminder starting.
But if Johansson does get the start, the Coyotes need to find a way to increase their shots on him. Johansson is younger, on a new team, and has yet to win a game this season. Peppering him with shots is the best strategy to get a dirty goal and maybe throw him off his game.
The one good thing about the Coyotes’ inconsistency this season is that it occasionally works in their favor. Despite a poor showing last night, we could see a completely different Coyotes team tonight that can take control of the game and steal a win. The odds are against it, but stranger things have happened.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Ekman-Larsson had the Coyotes' lone goal last night. He has not had a great season, missing time due to injury and having a few defensive lapses.
Colorado: Valeri Nichushkin - Nichushkin had two assists last night and has three points in two games for the Avalanche.
Arizona: Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Niklas Hjalmarsson (questionable, lower body)
Colorado: Conor Timmins (upper body), Dennis Gilbert (face), Erik Johnson (upper body), Pavel Francouz (lower body)
Tonight's game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.