The Arizona Coyotes are one of the most unpredictable teams in the NHL this season. They are in no way a good team, but they have the potential to surprise you. Their last game is a prime example, the Carolina Hurricanes outshot the Yotes 14-1 to start, but the Coyotes led 1-0.
The lead and the win weren’t just luck, although that had a bit to do with it, but a showcase of the Coyotes’ willingness to stay engaged in games. Sometimes that means blocking multiple Carolina shots to preserve a very narrow lead.
The last two games saw something we hadn’t seen up until then, 5-on-5 offense. The Coyotes’ have struggled to generate offense 5-on-5, but the Coyotes got another three goals from Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse, and Nick Bjugstad.
Along with Schmaltz getting his first goal, Jakob Chychrun registered his first assist in the Coyotes’ 4-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. As Chychrun looks to be on his way out of the desert, he will have a lot of eyes on him, and so far, he is not showing any lingering effects from his wrist surgery.
And if you are talking about Coyotes players who are playing well right now, you have to mention Karel Vejmelka. Vejmelka recorded his second shutout of the season against the Hurricanes, which required a few big saves.
The Coyotes certainly haven’t made things easy for their netminders. They have started multiple games with multiple penalties in the first ten minutes, which is not a recipe for success. They need to find some way to stay out of the box, or at least wait until later in the game.
While the Coyotes are still early in their rebuild, the Detroit Red Wings are a bit further along. They are starting to see some positive results and are currently third in the Atlantic behind the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They only have one more point than the Tampa Bay Lightning and two more than the Florida Panthers, so they are unlikely to stay there, but they are playing well so far.
Detroit’s most significant move this offseason was bringing in Finnish netminder Ville Husso, which has paid off so far. Husso started 38 games with the Saint Louis Blues last season and already has 13 starts this year with the Red Wings. He comes into tonight’s game with a .922 save percentage and a 2.36 goals-against average.
Other than Husso, the Red Wings have a few new faces. Dominik Kubalik is playing in his first season in Detroit after three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. The change of scenery must agree with him because he already has nine goals in 19 games.
The Red Wings come into tonight’s game riding a three-game win streak and a four-game point streak. They shut out the Nashville Predators 3-0 and absolutely destroyed the Columbus Blue Jackets (6-1) and the San Jose Sharks (7-4).
Usually, beating bottom feeders like the Sharks and Blue Jackets would be a given, but we have seen teams struggle against lower teams that they do not take seriously. It also makes it more likely that they will take the Coyotes seriously tonight.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Dylan Guenther - After being a healthy scratch against the Nashville Predators, Guenther returned and had a two-assist night against the Hurricanes. Guenther is still young, so ups and down are to be expected, but it is great to see him have a nice bounce-back game.
Detroit: Dylan Larkin - Larkin is in his eighth season with the Detroit Red Wings and is already off to a strong start. He currently leads the team in goals (9), assists (14), and points (23).
Arizona: Josh Brown (questionable, upper body), Juuso Välimäki (questionable, upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Detroit: Gustav Lindström (questionable, undisclosed), Elmer Söderblom (lower body), Matt Luff (wrist), Filip Zadina (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee)
Tonight’s game will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and ESPN 620AM.