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Coyotes Game 36 Preview: Coyotes look to start 2023 with a win over the Panthers

Arizona Coyotes' roadtrip continues against the Florida Panthers.

NHL: NOV 01 Panthers at Coyotes Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes play their first game of 2023 tonight as their road trip continues. Unfortunately, they dropped the first game of their four-game trip, falling 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Penalties proved to be a problem for the Yotes again last Saturday. The Lightning had three power plays against the Coyotes and scored on two. The Yotes’ penalty kill has been inconsistent all season, and it’s probably best not to test it.

But it wasn’t all bad for the Coyotes. Arizona responded well to after goals, both theirs and the Lightning’s, and did a decent job generating offense. The Coyotes need to be better in the shifts following a goal, and Saturday was a big improvement.

The Coyotes have been much better 5-on-5 lately, including three goals against the Lightning. Travis Boyd, Christian Fischer, and Nick Bjugstad all scored, and the Coyotes will hopefully continue to get a balanced offense as the season progresses.

After playing one of the top teams in the Atlantic, the Coyotes will be playing one of the weaker ones. The Florida Panthers are the seventh in the division, ahead of only the Montréal Canadiens, although the division is pretty tight, so that may change by the end of the season.

Florida has dropped their last two games, falling to the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes. But the Panthers beat the Canadiens 7-2 last Thursday, who are a closer analog for the Desert Dogs.

Florida went big during the off-season with the acquisition of Matthew Tkachuk, who signed an eight-year, $76 million deal. Tkachuk already has 17 goals and 26 assists in 35 games, so he is earning his contract even if the rest of the team isn’t.

The Panthers have been getting decent offense, but they are also giving up a lot of goals. Florida is 10th in goals against per game, averaging 3.42 per game. After a solid season, Sergei Bobrovsky is back to giving up a lot of goals, and his 3.32 goals-against average and .894 save percentage this season is his worst since going to Florida.

Unfortunately, the Panthers will be without former Coyote Anthony Duclair. After scoring a career-high 31 goals last season, Duclair has yet to play this season after tearing his Achilles tendon during the offseason. Florida will be missing his services until mid-March.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Barrett Hayton - Hayton has a goal and three assists in his last two games. He has been good defensively, and it is nice seeing his offense game come along too.

Florida: Sam Bennett - After scoring 28 goals last season, Bennett is off to a bit of a slow start. He scored his eighth goal in the Panthers’ previous game against the rangers and 25 points in 38 games.

Injuries

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

Florida: Chris Tierney (concussion), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Anthony Duclair (Achilles)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and ESPN 620AM.