Defensive coverages were blown, the offense was lacking, and goaltending let in some soft ones. And, perhaps most frustratingly, the effort seemed off in Friday’s contest. When so much goes so wrong, a team is left with nothing else but to forget and look inward.
That’s not to take anything from Minnesota, who certainly did their part to seize control. But a 3-0 deficit has become something of a pattern for the Coyotes in recent weeks.
Maybe Friday was just one of those nights? Some sort of reaction to the random trip to L.A. in the middle of a long homestand? A solid bounce-back would go a long way toward washing away the bad taste of that last one.
And despite how good they looked Friday, Minnesota is a beatable opponent. Their league-worst power play percentage (7.1%, after going 0-for-4 last night) is certainly a weakness. A back-to-the-basics approach, finding strength in structure for a few timely kills, could be just what the doctor ordered for this team.
If not, well, three more matchups with the Wild await in the next two weeks.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Phil Kessel - Clayton Keller responded to his removal from the “top” line last night, scoring the Coyotes’ only goal. The guy who’s taken his place is a surprising second on the team in goals (8) and points (in a 4-way-tie with 16). Extrapolated over a full 82 game season, Kessel is now on a 28 goal pace — matching the goal scoring rate over his four years in Pittsburgh. Even if he’s gone scoreless in the last three games, a return of the guy who went 4-4-8 in the previous 5 games would be very welcome.
Minnesota: Kevin Fiala - Fiala led all Wild skaters in shots on goal last night, with another 6 that missed the goal. One of those shots was the “insult to the injury” score late in the 3rd period. He’ll also be my stand-in for the Wild power play at large, as a member of that struggling unit.
Arizona: Darcy Kuemper (questionable, lower body)
Minnesota: Ryan Hartman (questionable, lower body), Marcus Johansson (upper body), Marco Rossi (upper body)
Tonight’s game will be in Arizona at 5:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports 910 AM.