As the trade deadline comes to an end, the Arizona Coyotes are a different team. Jakob Chychrun and Nick Bjugstad had been sitting a few games, so their loss will be less noticeable, but the Coyotes also traded defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. But just like Ghost had the chance to revive his career with a depleted Coyotes lineup, younger players will have that opportunity with the Coyotes moving forward.
Viewing games as an opportunity for prospects to develop is a good thing because the team probably isn’t going to be winning much as the season comes to an end. The Coyotes have dropped their last four games and giving up four goals in their previous two games against the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks and six against the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames the two games prior.
The Coyotes started things on the right foot against the Stars with goals from Barrett Hayton and Clayton Keller. The top line of Keller, Hayton, and Nick Schmaltz remains a bright spot for Coyotes fans, although Schmaltz taking an errant puck to the face may sideline him for a bit.
Unfortunately, the Stars won the special teams battle. Tyler Seguin scored a power play goal and a late short-handed goal, which sealed the Coyotes’ fate three-quarters of the way through the final frame. And given the Coyotes just traded their best two defensemen, the Coyotes’ special teams aren’t about to improve.
While the Coyotes have been selling, the Carolina Hurricanes have added a few key pieces. They started by grabbing Jesse Puljujärvi from the Edmonton Oilers for Patrik Puistola and followed that up by sending a third-round pick to the Coyotes for Gostisbehere. The Hurricanes are on top of the Metropolitan Division, so they didn’t need to change much, but they did a good job upgrading.
After a five-game win streak in the latter half of February, the Hurricanes have hit a rough patch. They have dropped their last two games, giving two points to the Anaheim Ducks last Saturday and falling 3-2 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.
But it will be tough for the Coyotes to replicate the Golden Knights’ success. Vegas took no penalties against the Hurricanes, which you probably can’t expect from one of the most penalized in the league.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Juuso Välimäki - The Coyotes are going to rely on players like Välimäki and J.J. Moser more as the season comes to an end, and the Finish defenseman looks ready to step up. He had two primary assists against the Stars, giving him 22 points in 57 games this season.
Carolina: Martin Nečas - After a previous career high of 16 goals in 64 games, Nečas is having a career year with 24 goals and 29 assists in 59 games. He leads the Hurricanes with 53 points, and only Sebastian Aho has more goals than him, with 25.
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz (questionable, upper body), Josh Brown (questionable, upper body), Jakub Voráček (concussion), Shea Weber (ankle), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
Carolina: Max Pacioretty (Achilles), Jake Gardiner (hip), Ondřej Kaše (concussion)
Tonight’s game will be at 7:30 pm Arizona time at the Mullett Arena and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and ESPN 620 AM. Please also consider donating if you can to help us launch an independent Five For Howling.