It wasn’t the cleanest victory, but the Arizona Coyotes have their first win of the season. Does that mean things are suddenly going to turn around? Probably not. Arizona’s roster doesn’t inspire much confidence, but it’s essential to keep the team mentally engaged, and nothing does that like a win.
Despite the win earlier this week, the Coyotes still have a lot of work to do. They need to start games on time, and they need to take fewer penalties.
The Coyotes may not be the most penalized team in the league, but they are one of them. They are one of the top ten penalized times when accounting for games played, and they tend to take to penalties at the worst time.
Unfortunately, poorly timed penalties have been an issue this season. They either take them early in the game and start down a few goals, or they take them when they need they should be maintaining some good momentum.
Arizona has started their first three matchups with early penalties, putting them seriously behind until Monday’s game. Giving up multiple power plays in the first five and half minutes is not a great way to start the game, and if you give a team enough power plays, they will eventually score.
Fortunately, one of the few areas the Coyotes do not need to improve is their power play. The Coyotes have power play goals in all three of their first three games, and the man advantage proved to be the difference maker in their last match.
Arizona takes a lot of penalties, but Monday was the first time a team kept up with them from the start. Arizona and Toronto traded penalties for much of the game, and the momentum only started to shift in the third period when the Yotes went to the box on back-to-back occasions.
The Coyotes playing down a man also limits who can play, which is not great for a player like Dylan Guenther. The Coyotes want to give Guenther a good chance to thrive, and it’s hard to do that if he is on the bench for penalty kills.
The Montréal Canadiens may have finished below the Coyotes last season, but they are doing slightly better this season. They have played one more game than the Desert Dogs and have one more win.
Like the Yotes, the Canadiens also beat the Maple Leafs 4-3 in regulation to start the season, but they also got two points against the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Monday. It took an overtime goal from Kirby Dach, but a win is a win.
Dach is one of a few additions by the Canadiens, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for the 13th overall pick. They also acquired Evgenii Dadonov from the Vegas Golden Knights for Shea Weber and claimed Johnny Kovacevic off waivers.
That probably isn’t enough to improve the league’s worst team last season. Arizona and Montréal still look to be front-runners in the race to the bottom, and they have plenty of competition.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Nick Ritchie - Ritchie leads the Coyotes with three goals, including the opening goal late in the first period of the Yotes’ previous game. He is a big piece of the Coyotes this season, and with Nick Schmaltz out, he is one of the players the Coyotes are going to be looking to for offense.
Montréal: Cole Caufield - Caufield lead’s the Canadiens with three goals and has points in his last two games. If Caufield hadn’t timed the game with 140 seconds left, Dach wouldn’t be able to score in overtime, and the Penguins would have won.
Arizona: Conor Timmins (questionable, upper body), Nick Schmaltz (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee), Jakob Chychrun (wrist)
Montréal: Jake Allen (personal), Emil Heineman (upper body), Paul Byron (lower body), Mike Matheson (abdominal), Joel Armia (upper body), Joel Edmundson (lower body), Carey Price (knee)
Tonight’s game will be at 4:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 620AM.