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Coyotes Game 40 Preview: Coyotes for better result in second game of back-to-back

The Arizona Coyotes won't have long to dwell on last night's loss as they are set to face the New York Rangers tonight.

New York Rangers v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are midway through their four-game road trip, and the easy games are over. Although, based on the 4-0 loss last night to the New York Islanders, “easy games” is a relative term. Things will be getting much harder from this point.

The Coyotes will be playing in their second game of a back-to-back, but they will be playing against one of the top teams in the Metropolitan Division, the New York Rangers.

Arizona will need to find a way to start on time tonight. In their last two games, the Coyotes seemed to take the first period off, and as we saw last night, that makes it hard to come back.

Fortunately for the Coyotes, they seemed to have gotten a handle on some of their worst habits. They only had to kill two power plays last night, a positive move for one of the most penalized teams in the NHL.

Arizona did not have any power plays of their own, but it’s hard to say if it would have made any difference. The Coyotes’ power play has been pretty bad lately, but they have had a few good looks, and you never know what can happen when the other team is down a man. It would have given them two minutes to avoid getting shut out, if nothing else.

The Coyotes decided to play Scott Wedgewood against the Islanders, so we will probably get a look at Karel Vejmelka tonight. Vejmelka has taken over as the Coyotes’ de facto starter, and the 25-year-old has looked good in his past few games. Vejmelka has given his team a chance at winning; whether or not they succeed is an entirely different story.

There is one good thing you can say about the Coyotes’ chances tonight it’s that at least they weren’t the only ones to play last night. The Rangers played on the road last night and dropped a 6-3 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. The loss moved the Hurricanes up in the standings, and they are now tied for the top of the division.

Before dropping that game, the Rangers had been riding a three-game win streak that saw them beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, and San Jose Sharks. Not exactly the most challenging series, but the wins were pretty commanding, and they got the points.

Alexander Georgiev got the start last night for the Rangers, which means the Coyotes will probably be facing off against starter Igor Shesterkin tonight. The 26-year-old Russian netminder is playing in his third season with the Rangers and has a 2.03 goals-against average, and a .927 save percentage. I’m not sure why the Rangers elected to rest their starter against the tougher competition, but clearly, they take the Coyotes very seriously and want to win this game.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel hasn’t been scoring as much this season, but that hasn’t stopped him from contributing to the Coyotes’ offense. He leads the team with 22 assists and is behind only Clayton Keller with 27 points.

New York: Adam Fox - It was a bit of a surprise pulling up the Rangers’ stats and seeing Fox at the top of the list, but it’s not hard to see why given how hot he’s been. He comes into tonight’s game on a four-game point streak and is 2-5-7 during that stretch. This year, the 23-year-old defenseman is lighting up the league and is on pace for career highs in goals, assists, and points.

Injuries

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

New York: Sammy Blais (knee)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at Madison Square Garden with a puck drop at 5:00 pm Arizona time. The game will air on Bally Sports Arizona+ and 620 AM.