The Arizona Coyotes’ massive road trip is off to a great start, with the Desert Dogs being undefeated in three games. But things won’t be getting any easier tonight, with the Coyotes facing off against the New Jersey Devils in the first game of a back-to-back.
After so many rough games where it looks like a shooting gallery in the defensive zone, it was great to see the Coyotes do an excellent job at limiting the New York Islanders’ shots. The 24 shots that Karel Vejmelka faced is a season-low. Putting that in perspective, when Vejmelka took over for Connor Ingram 12 minutes in against the Dallas Stars, he still had to face 26 shots.
But the Coyotes are finding ways to win, even if they rely too much on their power play. It’s important to remember that the team is still early in a rebuild, and the losses will come eventually, but you should take the time to enjoy the ride.
The New Jersey Devils are another big surprise this season. They currently lead the Metropolitan Division with 22 points in 14 games and are riding an eight-game win streak into tonight’s game. Sure the Coyotes’ three-game win streak to start their road trip, but the Devils haven’t lost since October 24th.
The Devils did a lot during the offseason, but few would have predicted their hot start.
The most surprising thing is that the old guard keeps the team going even with the new additions. Ondřej Palát has been limited to just six games due to injury, with Nico Hischier leading the team with eight goals in 13 games. Longtime Devil Jesper Bratt currently leads the team with 18 points in 14 games after his breakout 26-47-73 season last year.
Tonight’s game is definitely going to be a tough one for the Coyotes. The Devils don’t give up a lot of goals, with only the Jets, Bruins, Flyers, Avalanche, and Golden Knights giving up fewer. They also have the eighth-best penalty kill in the league, which could prove problematic considering how much the Coyotes depend on their power play.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - After a two-assist night against the Islanders, Keller comes into tonight’s game with a goal and four assists in his last three games. He is a significant piece of the Coyotes’ offense, even if he isn’t scoring as many goals himself this season.
New Jersey: Jack Hughes - Hughes is a point-per-game player so far this season after two assists in the Devils’ last game. It was his sixth multiple-point game of the season.
Arizona: Zack Kassian (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee), Jakob Chychrun (wrist)
New Jersey: Mackenzie Blackwood (undisclosed), Ondřej Palát (groin), Jonathan Bernier (hip)
Tonight’s game will be at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and ESPN 620AM.