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Coyotes Game 31 Preview: Coyotes host the Jets to start 4-game homestand

The Arizona Coyotes are back in action as they host the Winnipeg Jets.

Arizona Coyotes v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are back in action tonight, hosting the Winnipeg Jets for the first time since March 2020. Arizona hasn’t played a game in a week, having dropped their last game 8-7 to the San Jose Sharks in the shootout.

The Coyotes’ schedule was jam-packed to start the season with plenty of back-to-backs and little rest, but things got flipped-turned upside down thanks to the holiday and COVID-19. Arizona was supposed to play against the Dallas Stars this past Sunday but instead saw another game postponed.

The Yotes definitely looked rusty against the Sharks last week, and another whole week off probably won’t help them much. Thankfully, they could get some practice time in, but there is no substitute for meaningful games.

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, they continue to take poorly timed penalties. The Ducks had five power play opportunities, and while they gave up fewer to the Sharks, they still took a penalty in overtime.

Arizona hasn’t played much lately, but their last two games have been exciting. And surprisingly enough, they have been getting decent results from the looser schedule, finishing with three points in their previous two games.

A big part of the Coyotes’ recent success has been their power play. Christian Fischer got a timely goal towards the end of the first period against the Ducks, and Janis Moser and Andrew Ladd got power play goals against the Sharks. All three were pivotal goals, either tying the game or reducing their opponent’s lead at a critical time.

Like the Coyotes, the Jets have also recently dealt with COVID-19 delaying games. But while the Coyotes haven’t played in a week, the Jets played Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

It was another high-scoring affair, one that saw the Jets walk away with a 5-4 win in overtime, with Kyle Connor getting his 19th of the season.

The Jets have had a rough season, with plenty of ups and downs. Recently, Winnipeg has managed a few impressive wins, like a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, but they have also dropped some big ones. They fell 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks in the shootout and dropped their last game against the Buffalo Sabres 4-2.

Fortunately, the Coyotes have a rare advantage going into tonight’s game. The Jets are one of only two teams in the NHL to have a worse penalty kill than the Coyotes this season, with the Vancouver Canucks somehow being below both teams. They are very close, 71.0% for the Coyotes, 70.9% for the Jets, but we have seen time and again this season that a timely power play goal can make a world of difference.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Phil Kessel - Kessel had a four-point night against the Sharks and had two points against the Sharks. Kessel is likely on the way out this season, and he is making a good case for getting acquired by a contender.

Winnipeg: Kyle Connor - Connor had a goal and an assist in the Jets’ last game and currently leads the Jets with 19 goals. Connor has been good since breaking into the NHL, but he could set career-highs in goals, assists, and points this season.

Injuries

Arizona: Liam O’Brien (COVID-19 protocol), Matias Maccelli (COVID-19 protocol), Jay Beagle (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (upper body), Ryan Dzingel (upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body) Conor Timmins (knee)

Winnipeg: David Gustafsson (lower body), Evgeny Svechnikov (lower body), Blake Wheeler (knee)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena with a 7:00 pm start time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona Plus and on 620 AM.