The road trip is finally over. After playing one of their worst games of the season against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Arizona Coyotes were shut out 2-0 by the Chicago Blackhawks. But now they are back home, where they play much better.
The Coyotes haven’t played many games at home, but they play much better. They have a 7-3-2 home record compared to being 6-17-3 on the road.
If you can say one positive thing about Friday’s game, it is that the recent trend of the Coyotes not taking as many penalties continued. They only took two against Chicago, one more than Chicago, and they were perfect on the penalty kill. Not giving your team an advantage is always a positive sign, and hopefully, one that will continue against better teams.
The Coyotes killing both penalties is a bright spot, especially when everything else went wrong during the last road trip. Arizona isn’t the most skilled team, but they looked especially sloppy in their four-game losing streak. They struggled to clear the zone, had difficulties controlling the puck, and had issues scoring.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are also on a losing streak, having dropped their last six games. They are third from the bottom of the Metropolitan Division but still a step above the genuinely awful teams.
This season, the Penguins are a thoroughly average team in many ways. They are 15th in goals scored per game, 16th in goals against per game, and have the 18th-ranked power play. But they have one area where they are still elite and come into tonight’s game with the third-best penalty kill.
Fortunately for the Coyotes, the Penguins look to be without their starting goaltender Tristan Jarry. Jarry did not travel with the team and is currently in Pittsburgh with former-Coyote Josh Archibald. If the other team starts their backup, it is usually a sign that they don’t take the Coyotes seriously, which is a big mistake, especially when the Yotes are at home. But tonight will be Casey DeSmith looking for his fifth win of the season with a team that desperately wants to give him that win.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Lawson Crouse - Crouse led all Coyotes forwards in time on ice against Chicago and has been a big part of the team this season. He and Clayton Keller are tied with a team-leading 14 goals, and after going five games without a goal, he will hopefully light the lamp today.
Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby - Crosby had a goal and an assist in the Penguins’ last game, giving him 20 goals in 38 games. He is still a point-per-game player and should not be taken lightly.
Arizona: Matias Maccelli (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Pittsburgh: Tristan Jarry (lower body), Ryan Poehling (doubtful, upper body), Kris Letang (lower body), Josh Archibald (lower body), Jeff Petry (upper body)
Tonight’s game will be at 5:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and on ESPN 620AM.