The Arizona Coyotes’ four-game homestand continues, this time hosting the New Jersey Devils. The Coyotes and Devils last played each other on November 12th, and much has changed since then.
General Manager Bill Armstrong stripped the Coyotes’ roster down at the trade deadline, and if last Friday’s game is any indication, it should help them increase their lottery odds. The Coyotes fell 6-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes last Friday in what was one of their worst defeats of the season.
There wasn’t much that the Coyotes did right against the Hurricanes. They had a slow start, failed to score on any of their power plays, and went one for four on their penalty kills.
The penalty kill was probably the most significant contributor to the loss. Lawson Crouse had just gotten the Coyotes on the board midway through the game, cutting the Hurricanes’ lead to two. It wasn’t ideal, but a comeback was still possible. Unfortunately, 30 seconds later, Patrik Nemeth was sent to the box for hooking, and former Coyote Shayne Gostisbehere scored early on.
The Coyotes followed that up with another penalty a minute later, which led to another Canes power play goal. We have seen things snowball like this for the Coyotes, and now that the Coyotes are lacking their top two defensemen, we can expect it to happen a lot more.
After playing the top team in the Metropolitan Division, the Coyotes play the second-best team in the Metro tonight. The New Jersey Devils are two points behind the Hurricanes, having played one more game, and are 40-15-6 on the year.
The Devils are ending a three-game road trip tonight, which has been largely successful. They beat the Colorado Avalanche 7-5 last Wednesday and fell 4-3 in the shootout to the Vegas Golden Knights last Friday.
The New Jersey Devils have a few weaknesses this season. They are a top-five goal-scoring team, and they do not give up a lot of goals. Their power play is only average (15th in the NHL), but their penalty kill is ranked 10th overall.
If the Coyotes want a chance tonight, they need either stellar goaltending and need to catch the Devils by surprise. We have seen this a few times this season; good teams will occasionally look past the Coyotes and play sloppily to start, only for the Coyotes to take an early lead. But, of course, the Devils want all the points they can get as they look to overtake the Hurricanes, and they have tomorrow off, so there is no reason not to go all out, so the Coyotes probably shouldn’t anticipate an easy matchup.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Lawson Crouse - Crouse had the Coyotes’ lone goal against the Hurricanes, his 20th of the season. He is one goal and three points away from setting career highs. Crouse was held off the board the last time the Coyotes and Devils met.
New Jersey: Jesper Bratt- Bratt had a goal in the Devils’ last game against the Golden Knights and comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game point streak. With 25 goals in 61 games, he is just one goal away from tying his previous career-high. Bratt also had an assist the last time these two teams met.
Arizona: Christian Fischer (questionable, illness), Jakub Voráček (concussion), Shea Weber (ankle), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
New Jersey: Timo Meier (upper body), Mackenzie Blackwood (lower body), Jonathan Bernier (hip)
Tonight’s game will be at Mullett Arena with a 5:00 pm start time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona and on ESPN 620 AM.