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Coyotes Game 48 Preview: Coyotes play the Ducks for first of two times this week

The Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks meet in the race to the bottom.

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are a team that will surprise you if you don’t take them seriously. The Coyotes had lost every game of 2023 going into Sunday’s game but still managed to walk away with a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the top team in the Pacific Division.

It was as close to a perfect game as you are going to get from the Arizona Coyotes. But maybe the biggest reason for their success on Sunday was they started every period on time.

The Coyotes struck first with a goal from Dylan Guenther just a minute and 59 seconds into the game. The next period they doubled their lead with another early goal, Clayton Keller scoring his first of the night a minute and 39 seconds into the second period. The Coyotes have struggled to start periods all season, and Sunday showed what a difference a strong start makes.

Of course, a key reason for the win was Clayton Keller, who registered his second NHL hat trick with goals in the second and third periods. Keller is a big piece of the Coyotes’ offense, and when he struggled the last few games, the entire team struggled.

After facing the top team in the Pacific Division, the Arizona Coyotes will face the worst. The Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes are racing to the bottom, and while the Ducks took an early lead, things have started to even out.

The Ducks have played four games in a six-game road trip and are 1-2-1 on that trip. They beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 last Thursday and took the Pittsburgh Penguins to overtime last Monday. Their two losses have come against weaker teams, falling 5-2 against the Philadelphia Flyers and 6-3 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Tonight will be one of the few occasions where the Coyotes have the advantage in almost every area of the game. The Ducks may be doing slightly better lately, but they are still an incredibly bad team.

The Ducks have allowed the most goals per game, averaging 4.19 goals against per game. They are also dead last in scoring, averaging just 2.34 goals scored per game.

The Coyotes also have the edge on special teams. The Coyotes do not have a great power play or penalty kill, but they are still ahead of the Ducks. Anaheim has the third-worst power play in the league compared to the Coyotes’ seventh and has the third-worst penalty kill compared to the Coyotes’ fourth. Tonight seems like it will be a perfect demonstration of what happens when a very stoppable force meets a very movable object.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Clayton Keller isn’t the only player who stepped up against the Golden Knights. The Coyotes need Schmaltz to heat up too, and hopefully, he and Keller will take off at the same time.

Anaheim: Trevor Zegras - The Ducks may not be good this season, but Zegras sure is. He had two goals and an assist against the Buffalo Sabres and comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game point streak.

Injuries

Arizona: Lawson Crouse (questionable, upper body), Matias Maccelli (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)

Anaheim: Justin Kirkland (undisclosed), Derek Grant (lower body), Jamie Drysdale (upper body), John Moore (undisclosed)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and ESPN 620AM.