The Arizona Coyotes are still in Canada as they play the Winnipeg Jets in the first game of a back-to-back. After dropping their last four, the Yotes will need to find a way to stop the skid and walk away with two points against a division rival this afternoon.
Arizona began their road trip on Friday against the Calgary Flames, and things did not go according to plan. They suffered another second-period collapse and gave up three unanswered goals in the second period’s first eight and half minutes.
Special teams played a significant role in the Coyotes’ loss to the Flames. The Coyotes gave up two power play goals, both coming at pivotal movements. The Flames continued to build their own momentum or stop any Coyotes’ momentum with successful power plays, while the Coyotes were unsuccessful in their three opportunities with the man advantage.
But even in losses, there are bright spots that we will hopefully continue to see. Two players, Michael Carcone and Vladislav Kolyachonok, recorded their first career NHL goals against the Flames. In the first year of a rebuild, it is crucial to look for positive developments, especially in younger players who will hopefully be with the team long term.
The Central Division is shaping up to be an interesting one this year. The Colorado Avalanche has the lead by a wide margin, but sixty-plus games in, four teams in the Central have points in the 70s. Winnipeg is currently sixth in the division with 72 points, but a hot streak could see them rocket up the standings.
And the Jets have been good lately so that hot streak wouldn’t be too surprising. The Jets are 7-3-0 in their last ten games and walk into tonight’s game with some momentum after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime last Friday.
Winnipeg also seems to be doing an okay job taking their opponents seriously, even the ones beneath them. They beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 a week ago, and earlier this month took out the Montréal Canadiens 8-4 and the New Jersey Devils 2-1. They did fall 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators last Thursday, so they aren’t immune to a lesser team surprising them, so the Coyotes may still have a chance.
Special teams played a huge part in the Coyotes’ last loss, and they will probably do the same today. Thankfully, while the Jets are better than the Coyotes, they aren’t as good as the Flames.
Winnipeg has a good power play, but not great. They are currently 13th in the league, and while they may not be the best in the league, the Coyotes should probably avoid giving them many opportunities with the man advantage.
The Jets’ penalty kill is a different story, though. They are currently 27th in the league, killing 75.3% of penalties taken. That is only 0.9% better than the Coyotes’ 30th ranked penalty kill.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz had an assist on Kolyachonok’s goal and comes into tonight’s game with a modest two-game point streak. He has only played the Jets twice this season and was held off the scoresheet in both games.
Winnipeg: Kyle Connor - Conor had a goal and an assist in his last game and comes into tonight’s game riding a 10-game point streak. He has two goals and an assist in the Coyotes and Jets’ previous three games.
Arizona: Christian Fischer (lower body), Jack McBain (ankle), J.J. Moser (upper body), Antoine Roussel (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Andrew Ladd (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Winnipeg: Jansen Harkins (questionable, upper body), Cole Perfetti (upper body)
Today’s game will be at 4:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and 620 AM.