For the second time this season, the Arizona Coyotes are struggling as they prepare to face off against the St. Louis Blues. Last time, it was a game removed from being shut out in back-to-back games against the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks, this time, it’s after a five-game losing streak.
We all knew this would be a tough stretch of games against some of the better teams in the division. The Coyotes have a relatively easy finish, and they just had to make it through the Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and St. Louis Blues first.
If it feels like it’s been a long time since the Coyotes and Blues have matched up, it is because it has been. Covid-19 caused some significant schedule changes to start the season, and the Coyotes and Blues ending up playing seven of their eight games against each other in a makeshift series.
The Coyotes won that series, but it wasn’t an easy win. It came down to the final game, which saw Clayton Keller score the lone goal of the series to give the Coyotes a 1-0 win.
Last game, special teams were a significant factor in the Coyotes’ loss. The Wild converted on all three of their power play attempts, while the Coyotes only converted on one of their four.
Arizona has struggled to have consistent offense again this season, which makes the power play and penalty kill even more important. The Coyotes can’t continue to let those opportunities go without making their opponents, and they can’t keep giving up goals.
The third goal is still a big hurdle for the Coyotes, making the penalty kill vital to the Coyotes’ chances. Giving up any goals makes it harder for the Coyotes to win, to say nothing of giving up three power-play goals.
While the Coyotes have struggled, the Blues have been picking up points from teams that aren’t named the Avalanche. Last week they beat the Golden Knights 3-1 and the Wild 9-1 and 3-2 in overtime on back-to-back nights.
St. Louis is also coming into tonight’s game following a loss, a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. But the loss does highlight a few things that make the Blues a dangerous team.
In that loss, the Blues came back from being down 4-1, almost forcing the game into overtime. In that comeback, Mike Hoffman scored the second of the Blues two power goals.
If the Coyotes get a lead on the Blues this afternoon, they can’t count them out, and they need to keep up the pressure. And they need to be disciplined and not give the Blues free chances on the power play.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller always plays his best against his hometown team. He has three goals and three assists against the Blues this season.
St. Louis: Mike Hoffman - Hoffman had two goals and an assist in the Blues last game against the Avalanche. There was talk he may be moved at the deadline, but the Blues didn't make any moves, keeping their number two goalscorer.
Arizona: Darcy Kuemper (lower body)
St. Louis: Robert Thomas (shoulder), Oskar Sundqvist (ACL), MacKenzie MacEachern (undisclosed), Carl Gunnarsson (knee)
Tonight's game will be at 3:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Plus and Fox Sports 910 AM.
Before the game, the team will induct Leighton Accardo's name and number into the Ring of Honor. Leighton's story and battle with cancer affected a lot of people affiliated with the franchise, as well as fans, and it is great to see the Coyotes celebrate her life and memory.