After dropping their last game against the Colorado Avalanche, the Arizona Coyotes are back in action this afternoon against the Montréal Canadiens. Today will be a special matinee game, so hopefully, you have today off work.
On Saturday, the Coyotes played in their second game of a back-to-back against the Colorado Avalanche, and things were as bad as you would expect. The Coyotes were shut out 5-0 and spent most of the game on their back foot.
After being reasonably disciplined in their first game, the Coyotes took some terrible penalties in the second. Giving the Colorado Avalanche almost a minute of 5-on-3 is not a good way to win games. Even if the Avalanche only managed to score one goal, that is one more than the Coyotes scored.
But the outcome was understandable, given everything that was going on. Both teams had played each other the night prior, so the Avalanche were able to make adjustments to meet the Coyotes better. I have to imagine that after getting taken to the shootout by the lowly Coyotes, the Avalanche were eager to have a dominant performance to show what they could do.
The Coyotes also played down some key pieces. Injuries have already drained the Coyotes’ lineup, and last week saw three defensemen get added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Arizona’s blue line is pretty much the Tucson Roadrunners now, which will make it hard to win against one of the best teams in the NHL.
This afternoon will feature a matchup between two of the bottom teams in the NHL. Everyone expected the Coyotes to be towards the bottom of the league, that’s what happens when you sell off most of your good players during the offseason, but the Montréal Canadiens are a bit of a surprise.
After advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, it looked like the Canadiens would be ready to take the next step. They acquired center and former-Coyote Christian Dvorak, which is the type of move you make when you are looking to sure things up.
Unfortunately, the Canadiens have been dealing with serious injuries to key players. The biggest was star goaltender Carey Price, who wasn’t claimed at the expansion draft but has been dealing with knee and mental health issues all season.
Montréal has played in only three games since the start of the year, and they have lost all three. They fell 3-2 in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks and were beaten 5-1 by the Boston Bruins and 5-2 by the Florida Panthers. Tonight will be the first game of a five-game road trip, so hopefully, they will be able to play some games.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller leads the team with 13 goals and scored short-handed in the Coyotes’ second to last game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Montréal: Mike Hoffman - Hoffman had a goal in the Canadiens’ last match, his fifth of the season. He is one of four players with the Canadiens to have five goals on the season.
Arizona: Scott Wedgewood (COVID-19 protocol), Cam Dineen (COVID-19 protocol), Anton Strålman (COVID-19 protocol), Kyle Capobianco (COVID-19 protocol), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Montréal: Kale Clague (questionable, conditioning), Cédric Paquette (questionable, undisclosed), Jake Allen (lower body), Carey Price (knee), Brendan Gallagher (lower body), Mathieu Perrault (lower body), Tyler Toffoli (hand), Josh Anderson (probably, upper body), Paul Byron (hip), Joel Edmundson (lower body)
This afternoon’s game will start at 2:00 pm Arizona time and will air on ESPN+, Hulu, and 620 AM.