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Coyotes Game 38 Preview: Coyotes look to deal with the Devils

The Arizona Coyotes start their road trip tonight against the New Jersey Devils.

NHL: DEC 14 Devils at Coyotes Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game Preview

After a four-game homestand, the Arizona Coyotes are back on the road and set to play four games in the Northeast. They open the action tonight against the New Jersey Devils.

The Coyotes have been somewhat successful as of late. They beat the Montréal Canadiens 5-2 in their last matchup and won three of their last four games. They have come close even when they haven’t won, including a shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

But if the Coyotes are going to be successful, they will need to find a way to keep their offense going. The Desert Dogs aren’t the most offensively gifted team in the NHL, but they have looked better lately and have found a few different ways to get on the board. The Coyotes don’t have a lot of superstars, so they require offense from everyone, but if they can keep that going, they will find success in a few games.

Hopefully, the Arizona Coyotes will get some relief tonight with multiple players and coaches being activated from COVID-19 protocol. Head Coach André Tourigny, Goalie Coach Corey Schwab, defensemen Jakob Chychrun, Cam Dineen, Anton Strålman, Kyle Capobianco, and goaltender Scott Wedgewood have all missed games due to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, and all are ready to return starting tonight. That’s not to say they are guaranteed to play tonight, Chychrun was injured before being placed in COVID-19 protocol, but the team felt comfortable re-assigning Vladislav Kolyachonok and Victor Söderström to the Tucson Roadrunners, so the blue line will at least be more experienced tonight.

The New Jersey Devils are an interesting team, especially this year. They have dealt with some pretty significant injuries and COVID issues and are currently second to last in the Metropolitan Division with 33 points in 37 games. But the Wild Card spots are still in contention in the East, so if the Devils get hot, they can make a run for it.

New Jersey has also had to deal with issues of postponed games, which should make tonight’s game interesting. The Devils last played last Thursday, a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders in what was supposed to be the start of a three-game road trip. But, unfortunately, those other two games were against the Montréal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, and both games were postponed.

Depending on where you fall on the rust versus rest debate, this could be good or bad for the Desert Dogs. The time off does appear to have given the Devils time to get some players back, which should make this game tougher for the Coyotes. But as we saw when the Coyotes ended up with a week between matchups, time off can make teams sloppier as they struggle to adjust to an actual game.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz- Schmaltz has struggled this season, but he had a goal and two assists in his last game and has four points in his previous four games. The Coyotes need all of the offense they can get, and if Schmaltz can get hot, he should give them a nice boost.

New Jersey: Yegor Sharangovich - Sharangovich comes into tonight’s game riding a four-game goal streak, and he has five points in his last four. The 23-year-old center had a solid rookie season last year and seemed to be avoiding the sophomore slump with 8 goals and 7 assists in 31 games.

Injuries

Arizona: Antoine Roussel (COVID-19 protocol), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (questionable, upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

New Jersey: P.K. Subban (questionable, illness), A.J. Greer (head), Dougie Hamilton (jaw), Jonathan Bernier (hip), Tyce Thompson (shoulder), Miles Wood (hip)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be another early one, starting at 5:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 620 AM.