The Arizona Coyotes will be playing at home for the first time this season. Seven games in, and the Coyotes’ opening road trip is finally done, and the team is ready to play their first game at Mullett Arena.
Surprisingly, they are coming into tonight’s game with some momentum. After dropping back-to-back games against the Montréal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, the Coyotes played a surprisingly complete game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Coyotes have won two games so far, and both started with solid starts. And while they managed to win against the Toronto Maple Leafs after the Leafs traded penalties with the Coyotes to start the game, Arizona stayed mostly disciplined against Columbus.
Arizona isn’t the most penalized team in the league, but they take far too many. The Blue Jackets had five power plays on Tuesday, which is way too many, but the Coyotes at least didn’t shoot themselves in the foot with a poorly-timed trip to the box.
Just as important as not taking too many dumb penalties, the Coyotes beat the Blue Jackets by scoring with the man advantage. Both Shayne Gostisbehere and Dylan Guenther light the lamp on the power play, giving the Coyotes their first and fourth goals of the night.
It’s not entirely clear why the Coyotes, a team still early in a rebuild, have such a good power play. They are currently sixth in the league converting on 29.6% of their chances, and have scored in all but one game. It’s not enough to steal a game for them, but it can help tip the scales a bit more in the Desert Dogs’ favor.
It’s fitting that the Coyotes’ first game in their new barn is against the Winnipeg Jets. In 1996 the Winnipeg Jets 1.0 relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, so why shouldn’t the Jets 2.0 be the kickoff team for Mullett Arena?
The Jets are in the second game of a three-game road trip, having played against the Los Angeles Kings last night. Los Angeles had a 3-2 win going into the first intermission, but the Jets rallied back and pulled out a 6-2 win. Last night was the second straight win for the Jets, who also beat the St. Louis Blues 4-0 on Monday.
Winnipeg’s big move this offseason was bringing in a new bench boss. Out is Dave Lowry, in are Rick Bowness, former assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes and fresh off a stint with the Dallas Stars, Brad Lauer, Scott Arniel, and Marty Johnston.
Unfortunately, the Jets will be without their head coach Rick Bowness for tonight’s game. Bowness did not join his team on the road trip after experiencing dizzy spells during media availability earlier in the week.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller comes into tonight’s game second on the team with seven points and riding a five-game point streak. He had a three-assist night against the Blue Jackets, his first multi-point game of the season.
Winnipeg: Adam Lowry - Lowry had a goal and an assist last night and an assist on Monday against the Blues. He’s not the Jets’ biggest offensive weapon, but he can definitely make teams pay.
Arizona: Conor Timmins (questionable, upper body), Nick Schmaltz (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee), Jakob Chychrun (wrist)
Winnipeg: Dylan Samberg (probable, lower body), Logan Stanley (doubtful, undisclosed), Nikolaj Ehlers (lower body)
Tonight’s game will air be the first game at Mullett Arena and will start at 7:30 pm. So the best way to watch will be one of the few seats in the Coyotes’ arena, and everyone else will have to settle for hearing John Buccigross and Brian Boucher call the game or listen on 620AM.