After dropping their game yesterday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Arizona Coyotes are back on the road to take on the San Jose Sharks. While far from an easy win, it will hopefully provide the Coyotes with an excellent bounce-back opportunity.
Yesterday’s game was a lot like recent Coyotes’ games, with one glaring exception; they couldn’t score. Arizona has done a great job at capitalizing on its opportunities, but the combination of Pittsburgh’s defense and the stellar play of Tristan Jarry kept the Desert Dogs to one.
If the Coyotes are going to find success tonight, they will have to capitalize on their rare opportunities or work to control the game’s pace. Arizona has a decent transition game, and players are willing to go to the front of the net, but being outshot by a 2-to-1 margin isn’t a great recipe for long-term success.
Yesterday’s game also saw the loss of Coyotes’ forward Clayton Keller, who missed the latter half of the final frame after getting tripped up and falling hard to the ice. However, coach Tourigny told reporters yesterday that Keller was fine and should be good to go today, which is great because Keller has genuinely made himself a vital part of this team moving forward.
They couldn’t have picked a better one if the Coyotes wanted an opponent for a bounceback game. The Sharks are the second-worst team in the Pacific Division, ahead of only the lowly Seattle Kraken, and have dropped their last three games.
That’s not to say that the Sharks are a terrible team. Their losing streak includes losses to the Florida Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche, two of the best teams in the NHL right now. Their third loss came at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, who may not be cup favorites, but they seem like a lock to make the post-season this year.
Tonight will be a rare opportunity for the Coyotes. This season, the San Jose Sharks are one of the few teams who have scored fewer goals than the Coyotes. San Jose averages 2.57 goals per game, compared to the Coyotes’ 2.61. Arizona’s recent offensive blitz contributed to the Coyotes’ numbers going up, and the difference is minor. But the Coyotes so rarely outscore opponents you have to celebrate it when you can.
San Jose is better than the Coyotes in almost every other area. They give up far fewer goals and have a top three penalty kill. And while the Sharks’ power play is bad, it is still far better than the Coyotes’.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller had the Coyotes’ lone goal last night and will hopefully be ready to return. Considering how many areas of the game he touches now, the Coyotes can not afford to lose him for long.
San Jose: Logan Couture - Couture had an assist in the Sharks’ game and comes into tonight’s game with 20 goals and 45 points.
Arizona: J.J. Moser (upper body), Jakob Chychrun (lower body), Antoine Roussel (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Andrew Ladd (lower body), Johan Larsson (hernia), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
San Jose: Adin Hill (lower body), Nikolai Knyzhov (lower body), Radim Simek (upper body), Mario Ferraro (leg), Kevin Labanc (upper body)
Today’s game will be at 4:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and 620 AM.