The Arizona Coyotes have played three games this week. Two were against teams ahead of them in the standings, the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues, and one was against one of the few teams worse than them, the Anaheim Ducks. And because the Coyotes are incredibly predictable, the only matchup they lost was to the lowly Ducks, their opponent for tonight’s game.
Thursday’s game against the Blues was one of the better Coyotes’ games this season and featured a little of everything. They weren’t completely dominant, but thanks to a stellar performance from Karel Vejmelka and an offense led by a Nick Schmaltz hat-trick, the Coyotes walked away with the 5-0 win.
Perhaps the biggest reason for their success was the Coyotes had good shifts after they scored. It took three minutes for Schmaltz to double up the Coyotes’ lead in the second period, and Barrett Hayton gave the Coyotes a 5-0 lead on the power play just over two minutes after Travis Boyd made it 4-0.
The Coyotes have a habit of playing to their opponent’s level, up or down. This sometimes results in them beating a team they have no right to, like the Golden Knights, but it can also result in them losing to weaker teams like the Ducks.
After beating the Coyotes 5-2 on Tuesday, Anaheim ended their road trip on a high note with a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Ducks aren’t the most offensively gifted team, but they have a lot of young talent and can make their opponents pay.
The Ducks did not have a dominating performance against the Avalanche in their last game. They trailed for most of the game, and after Mikko Rantanen scored late in the second period on the power play, it looked like Anaheim would be going into the third period down 3-1. But a late goal from Frank Vatrano gave the Ducks a bit of life heading into the final intermission, and Anaheim followed that up with three unanswered goals in the third.
If the Coyotes want revenge, they must come in ready to play a full 60-minute game against the Ducks. They need to start strong and finish strong and keep going hard until that final whistle blows.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz had a four-point game against the Blues and comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game point streak. He had one of the two Coyotes’ goals the last time they played the Ducks.
Anaheim: Frank Vatrano - Nick Schmaltz wasn’t the only player with a hat-trick on Thursday. Vatrano scored three for the Ducks on Thursday and had a goal and an assist against the Coyotes.
Arizona: Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Anaheim: Kevin Shattenkirk (questionable, lower body), Justin Kirkland (undisclosed), Derek Grant (lower body), Jamie Drysdale (upper body), John Moore (undisclosed)
Tonight’s game will be at 8:30 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and on 92.3 FM.