The road trip is over, and the Arizona Coyotes finally return home. After 14 games on the road, Arizona will once again be at home, and it couldn’t come sooner enough.
After watching the Coyotes come close but fall at crucial moments, the last game was a bit of a relief. The Coyotes fell behind early with a power play goal from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and never got close to recovering.
The Edmonton Oilers had five power play opportunities, and they made the Coyotes pay with two of them. Arizona only had two, but one was cut short when Lawson Crouse was called for interference late in the opening frame.
Penalties have been a problem for the Coyotes all season, and that isn’t going to change just because the Coyotes are at home. But it’s amazing what a night sleeping in your own bed can do for your attitude, and the Coyotes will hopefully get more practice time as they play four of their next five at home.
In addition to not taking penalties, the Yotes desperately need to get their power play going. Their 5-on-5 play has been surprisingly good, but one of the league’s best power plays at the start of the season has suddenly become incredibly bad.
Maybe Jakob Chychrun and Nick Schmaltz need more time to practice the system since returning while on the road, or possibly other teams have just learned to counter it. But either way, the Coyotes need to find some way to make the other team pay when they have the man advantage.
Unfortunately, things aren’t getting any easier in the Yotes’ first game back at the Mullett Arena. Their first opponent is one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins.
The Boston Bruins come into tonight’s game with a 21-3-1 record and are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Most recently, they beat the injury-ridden Colorado Avalanche 4-0 Wednesday to start a three-game road trip.
It’s not hard to see why the Bruins have been winning; they score a lot of goals and give up very few. Honestly, I’m not sure why more teams don’t try that.
The Bruins have 100 goals in 25 games. Only the Buffalo Sabres have scored more, with 105, but unlike the Sabres, who have given up 96 goals, the Bruins have only given up 53, the fewest in the league.
Part of that has been Linus Ullmark, who has been phenomenal to start the season. He comes into tonight’s game with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage through 18 games played.
But it takes more than just a hot goalie for a team to be one of the best. Boston is a well-oiled machine, so the Coyotes need to come into this game ready to work, and they may catch their opponents by surprise.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Jakob Chychrun - Despite the Yotes falling 8-2, Jakob Chychrun’s point streak continued with an assist on Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal. Chychrun has four points in three games and seven points in eight.
Boston: David Pastrňák - Pastrňák comes into tonight’s game with 18 goals and 18 assists in 25 games and four goals in three games. His contract will expire after this season, and Pastrňák should be in for a big raise if he keeps this up.
Arizona: Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Boston: Matt Filipe (lower body)
The Arizona Coyotes are back in Mullett Arena for the first time in a long time, with puck drop at 7:30 pm Arizona time. The game will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and on ESPN 620AM.