Because ASU is still building the Coyotes’ locker room annex, the Desert Dogs are still early in an extremely long road trip. But the schedulers did them a tiny favor, three days off before facing the Vegas Golden Knights and then another three days off.
The long breaks mean that the Coyotes can go all out tonight in a way they couldn’t in this last weekend’s back-to-back. Whether that will be enough against an old division rival remains to be seen.
The Coyotes played well against the Rangers despite losing, especially in the first half. Igor Shesterkin was a wall for most of the game and kept the Rangers in it long enough for them to mount a comeback.
One player did manage to score for the Coyotes, breaking the shutout on the power play. It should come as no surprise for Coyotes fans that the player was Clayton Keller, who recorded his sixth of the season from Nick Ritchie and Travis Boyd.
Keller has been a major part of the Coyotes’ offense this season, and it is great to see him start hot. But when you are down 3-0, you need more than just Keller stepping up to win games.
The Vegas Golden Knights ended their road trip a week ago today, beating the Buffalo Sabres 7-4 to record their ninth straight win. Then, they hosted the St. Louis Blues last Saturday and lost 3-2 in regulation for the first time since October 22nd. They followed that up with a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. So this may be the best time for the Coyotes to play the Golden Knights.
It should be no surprise that the Golden Knights are scoring goals. Vegas is second in the league in goals scored (61), and Jack Eichel is leading the offense. Eichel has ten goals and ten assists in 17 games, leading the Golden Knights in goals and assists.
But tonight’s game will also be the first time Coyotes fans see Phil Kessel as a member of the Golden Knights. Kessel signed with Vegas during the offseason and has three goals and four assists this season.
Another familiar face the Coyotes may end up seeing is goaltender Adin Hill. Hill has started six games this season and boasts a 2.32 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
Vegas’ starter is Logan Thompson getting his shot at starting. Thompson has a .922 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average in 11 games played.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Travis Boyd - I’m not sure any play has fit in better with the Coyotes than Travis Boyd since being acquired by the Desert Dogs. Boyd had an assist against the Rangers and comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game point streak.
Vegas: Jonathan Marchessault - Marchessault had a goal against the San Jose Sharks, his seventh of the season. Last season was his second 30-goal season, and he could reach that again this season.
Arizona: Zack Kassian (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (ribs), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee), Jakob Chychrun (wrist)
Vegas: Shea Weber (ankle), Robin Lehner (hip), Nolan Patrick (upper body)
The Coyotes are back in the western United States, so tonight’s game will take place at 8:00 pm Arizona time and will air on SN360, Bally Sports Arizona, and ESPN 620AM.