This past Monday’s game may have been the final nail in the coffin for the Arizona Coyotes’ season. There are still games to be played, so we can’t say that definitively, but the odds are against them.
The St. Louis Blues currently have one more point than the Coyotes, despite playing in three fewer games. They are 5-5-0 in the last ten games, compared to the Coyotes, who are 2-8-0. At this point, things aren’t looking good for the Desert Dogs.
But the Coyotes still have a chance, and while they can’t do anything about the Blues, they are in control of their play. And that starts tonight against the San Jose Sharks.
Arizona is going to need to find a way to start tonight’s game on time. They clearly weren’t ready on Monday, and the Sharks were more than happy to take advantage of the Coyotes’ sloppy play.
We saw that not only with their first goal, 17 seconds into the game, off a miscommunication between Darcy Kuemper and Jason Demers, but also in the Coyotes’ lack of response after that goal.
But when the Coyotes finally did wake up, they played well. The Yotes had four goals, including two from defenseman Jakob Chychrun, which should be enough for a win. Unfortunately, they had spotted the Scottsdale Sharks a 4-0 lead to start the game, so it wasn’t enough to win that one.
Special teams proved to be a mixed bag for the Coyotes. They were perfect on the power play, preventing the Sharks from scoring on any of their four power play opportunities.
On the flip side, the Coyotes couldn’t score on their three power plays. And these were at very important moments in the game, the first was after the Sharks took a 2-0 lead, and the second was after the Coyotes cut San Jose’s lead to one goal.
A big part of the Coyotes’ success on the penalty kill was goaltender Adin Hill. Kuemper was pulled early in the second after San Jose’s fourth goal, but he didn’t have to face any power play shots. Hill stopped all six of the shots he faced short-handed.
Hill was also solid at even strength, with 15 saves on 16 shots. Kuemper has been starting every game since he returned from injuries, but Hill’s quality showing may have earned him a start tonight.
But it does look like Kuemper will be getting the start today. Kuemper should have all the motivation in the world to have a good showing, not only is he playing for his team to have a shot at making the playoffs, but he is playing for pride after getting yanked on Monday.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun - Chychrun has emerged as one of the best defensemen in the league. His 16 goals lead all defensemen, and he had 2 goals and an assist in the Coyotes' last game.
San Jose: Evander Kane - Kane had a great night on Monday, recording a goal and three assists.
Arizona: Antti Raanta (upper body), Conor Garland (knee), Tyler Pitlick (lower body), Jordan Gross (lower body)
San Jose: Kevin Labanc (questionable, upper body), Ryan Donato (questionable, lower body), Radim Simek (questionable, upper body), Matt Nieto (lower body)
Tonight's game will be in San Jose at 7:30 pm Arizona time. It will air on ESPN+, Bally Sports Arizona+, and Fox Sports 910 AM.