Hockey is a weird game. The Arizona Coyotes played the best and worst team in the Pacific Division in their last two games. First, they beat the top team, the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-1, only to lose 5-2 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
The Coyotes may have started the second period down a goal, but the middle frame is when things really went out of control. Juuso Välimäki took an incredibly dumb slashing major, and the Ducks scored on the delayed call and the resulting power play. Arizona is sixth in penalties taken per game, and Tuesday showed how quickly things could get out of hand with a poorly timed penalty.
The most enduring thing about the Coyotes this season has been their refusal to go down without a fight, and they showed that again on Tuesday. Both Barrett Hayton and Nick Schmaltz lit the lamp in the last ten minutes, and even if it was too late, they are the players you want generating offense.
The Coyotes are playing a better team tonight, even if they aren’t one of the top-tier teams. The St. Louis Blues are sixth in the Central Division, although they are 14 points ahead of the Coyotes.
The Blues come into tonight’s game riding a two-game losing streak after dropping their last two games 5-3. They fell to the Sabres on Tuesday and did the Coyotes a favor by giving the Blackhawks two points on Saturday.
St. Louis has had issues with the bad teams. Not only did they lose to the Blackhawks, but they also fell 5-4 to the Montréal Canadiens early in the month. But they beat the Ottawa Senators last Monday, their fifth win of the month.
The St. Louis Blues have a decent offense this season. They are 19th in goals per game this season, with Jordan Kyrou leading the way with 23 goals. St. Louis also has the 15th-ranked power play converting 22.6% of the time.
Unfortunately for St. Louis, they have been giving up a lot of goals. Jordan Binnington has been trending down the past few seasons, and this season is no exception. He has a 3.28 goals-against average, and a .891 save percentage in 37 games this season compared to last season when he finished with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in 37 games. He has the same number of wins (18) as last season but two more regulation losses.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Barrett Hayton - Hayton had a goal and an assist in the Coyotes’ last game, his third multi-point game of the season. Hayton has been playing much better and is earning his spot on the Coyotes’ top line.
St. Louis: Brayden Schenn - Schenn had a goal in the Blues’ last game and comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game point streak. He is fourth on the Blues in points.
Arizona: Lawson Crouse (questionable, upper body), Matias Maccelli (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
St. Louis: Pavel Buchnevich (ankle), Robert Bortuzzo (lower body), Ryan O’Reilly (foot), Scott Perunovich (shoulder), Marco Scandella (hip)
Tonight’s game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and ESPN 620AM.