Last night’s game featured a lot of the Coyotes’ worst traits. Perhaps the biggest problem was their play after giving up a goal, which started the snowball effect leading to the loss.
The Coyotes gave up a goal just over two and a half minutes into the game, which is not ideal but not necessarily something that dooms the game. But 22 seconds after Radek Faksa lit the lamp, Patrik Nemeth was sent to the box for tripping, and the Stars took a 2-0 lead with Jamie Benn scoring his 18th on the power play.
The following few shifts after a goal are extremely important. If you play well, you can tie it up or at least change the momentum. But the Coyotes’ play post goal has been suspect all season, and last night was an excellent example of how it can make a bad problem worse.
The Coyotes will play another top team tonight, this time the top team of the Pacific Division. The Vegas Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division with 60 points in 47 games, one point ahead of the Seattle Kraken with one more game played.
Despite leading their division, the Golden Knights aren’t necessarily one of the top teams in the NHL. They are 13th in goals scored per game and 12th in goals against per game, which is definitely better than the Coyotes but not top-tier. But they are finding ways to get it done and come into tonight’s game with a 5-4-1 record in their last ten games.
The Golden Knights also played last night, beating the Washington Capitals 6-2. It was a game that looked a lot like the Coyotes’ previous game, especially the two goals in the first ten minutes to start the scoring.
Logan Thompson started for the Golden Knights last night, meaning we may see former Coyote Adin Hill in net for Vegas. Hill has fit comfortably in as Vegas’ backup, and in 17 games played, he has a 2.65 goals-against average, and a .908 save percentage.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - After a strong start, Clayton Keller has slowed down a bit. He had a goal against the Winnipeg Jets, his only point in seven games. The Coyotes rely on Keller to generate offense, and it’s no coincidence that the offense has dried up as he has run cold.
Vegas: Phil Kessel - The former Coyote has been having a solid season with the Golden Knights, not his best but a good year to go out on. He had an assist the last time the Coyotes and Golden Knights met.
Arizona: Lawson Crouse (upper body), Matias Maccelli (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Vegas: Mark Stone (upper body), Daniil Miromanov (lower body), William Carrier (upper body), Pavel Dorofeyev (undisclosed), Zach Whitecloud (lower body), Shea Theodore (leg), Brett Howden (lower body), Shea Weber (ankle), Robin Lehner (hip), Nolan Patrick (upper body)
Tonight’s game will be at 6:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and 92.3 FM.