We have reached the end of the road trip. Over a month ago, on November 3rd, the Arizona Coyotes played their last game at home. After tonight, the 14-game road trip will finally be over.
But that still leaves tonight, and if the last game was any indication, the Coyotes are in trouble.
The Coyotes have struggled lately and have dropped their last five games. They aren’t getting blown out, one game ended in the shootout, one in overtime, and only the 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings saw them lose by more than one goal, but they are frustrating losses either way.
Unfortunately, what we see in game after game is that the Coyotes repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot. They get close, but more often than not, a poorly timed penalty saps any momentum or costs them a goal or even the game.
Is there a way to stop this? Probably not stop, but the Coyotes can undoubtedly limit it. And credit to the Desert Dogs, they only took three penalties against the Flames compared to the eight they took against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Edmonton Oilers also come into tonight’s game having lost their last matchup 3-2, but unlike the Coyotes, it wasn’t part of a lengthy losing streak. Instead, the Oilers are in a respectable position, 5-5-0 in their last ten games and fourth in their division. If the playoffs were to start tonight, the Oilers would have a Wild Card spot, but that is a far cry from finishing second in the division like they did last year.
Unlike Calgary, Edmonton didn’t make a lot of changes during the offseason, so it is a little weird to see them this low in the standings at this point. But it’s still early, so who knows how things will shake up as the season progresses.
The Oilers are who you expect at this point. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead the offense, and both have over 40 points in 26 games. McDavid has an impressive 22 goals and 26 assists, while Draisaitl has 17 goals and 25 assists.
In net this season, the Oilers have elected to go with a tandem of Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell. Skinner has been playing with his hometown team since being drafted in 2017 and played 13 games last season. Campbell is coming off a season in Toronto where he started 47 games, posted a 2.64 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. So far, the starts have been split down the middle with 13 each.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun - Chychrun had a goal and an assist against the Flames, giving him three points in two games. It was his second multi-point game since his return, and more games like that should bump up his trade stock.
Edmonton: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nugent-Hopkins isn’t the star in Edmonton anymore, but he is still a good player who is off to a good season. He had an assist against the Washington Capitals and comes into tonight’s game riding a two-game point streak.
Arizona: Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Edmonton: Zach Hyman (questionable, undisclosed), Ryan McLeod (undisclosed), Warren Foegele (undisclosed), Evander Kane (wrist)
Tonight’s game will be in Edmonton with a 7:30 pm Arizona time start. It will air on SN1, Bally Sports Arizona Extra, and on the radio on ESPN 620AM.