Tonight is a big night for the Arizona Coyotes. It is the final game before the NHL trade deadline, and it is not an exaggeration to say that this could affect the future of the franchise and the careers of everyone on the ice and behind the bench.
The Coyotes played the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, and a slow start doomed them. Vegas scored goals over 4 minutes and 31 seconds, putting the Coyotes in an extremely deep hole. They came close to crawling back but couldn’t complete the comeback and lost 7-4.
If the Coyotes want a chance tonight, they need to find a way to start on time and play a full 60 minutes. Vegas has shown that they can convert on even minor breakdowns.
But this is still a very winnable game. The Coyotes, a team that has struggled to score, had four goals against Robin Lehner. Vegas is a scary team, but they have weaknesses that the Coyotes can exploit if they come ready to play.
In net for the Coyotes today will be Adin Hill, making his tenth straight start for the Coyotes. Hill was okay on Friday, and most of the goals he gave up could be blamed on poor coverage in front of the net. Hill was clearly frustrated after getting hung out to dry, and hopefully, the team in front of him will be much better this afternoon.
Special teams will likely play a significant role in tonight’s game like they did on Friday. Both teams started their scoring with a power play goal, showing how important that can be.
Unfortunately, a bad power play can also do a lot of damage. Vegas had a short-handed goal on the Coyotes’ first power play, and it seemed to drain any chance of the Coyotes’ coming back in the first. And we have seen plenty of examples of a good kill on a poor Coyotes’ power play leading to a momentum shift, allowing the opposition to come back stronger.
If the Coyotes need any more motivation for tonight’s game, they only need to look at the standings. The St. Louis Blues have been heating up, and after beating the Minnesota Wild last night, they have retaken the fourth playoff spot. That is their third straight win, which included a 9-1 win against the Wild.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel had a rough first season in the desert, but he has been much better this season. He had three assists last time the Coyotes played, and he currently leads the team in points.
Vegas: Max Pacioretty - Pacioretty had a goal and an assist in the last game and currently leads the team with 19 goals scored.
Arizona: Christian Fischer (questionable, head), Antti Raanta (undisclosed), Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body), Darcy Kuemper (lower body)
Vegas: Patrick Brown (questionable, undisclosed), Zach Whitecloud (upper body), Jiri Patera (undisclosed)
Today's game is an early one, starting at 1:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on SN1, Bally Sports Arizona Plus, and Fox Sports 910 AM.