The Arizona Coyotes aren’t going to win a lot of games for the rest of the season, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to try their best. And as we saw against the New Jersey Devils, losing key players doesn’t mean their fight is gone.
Despite the difference in standings, the Coyotes kept up with the Devils for much of the last game. They kept the game close for most of the first two periods and scored twice in the third to force it into overtime.
There were still plenty of bright spots for fans who are watching the lottery odds. They got offense from core players like Nick Schmaltz (goal), Clayton Keller (assist), and Lawson Crouse (assist), as well as younger players like Jack McBain (goal and an assist), Juuso Välimäki (two assists), and Victor Söderström (assist). These are players who the Coyotes need to improve year after year, even if the team continues losing.
Unfortunately, things weren’t all good for the Coyotes. They were largely disciplined, only taking one penalty, but their penalty kill came up short, giving up a goal that gave the Devils a two-goal lead. Their power play also came up empty on both of their two attempts.
The St. Louis Blues’ future looks clear, and it will be rough. They started the yard sale early, sending Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers, and that was only the beginning. The end result was the Blues adding a lot of picks and prospects, which is probably the right move for a team that is only seven points ahead of the Coyotes in the standings.
The Blues have played only one game since the deadline, a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings last Saturday. The Blues tied the game twice in the loss but couldn’t overcome a late Kings power play goal.
St. Louis may have sold off a lot, but they still have a few impressive players. They have three players with over 50 points, Robert Thomas, Pavel Buchnevich, and Jordan Kyrou. Thomas and Kyrou are both younger than 25 and could be part of the Blues’ eventual rebuild.
Arizona’s strategy for tonight should be peppering the net with shots. Goaltending has been a big weakness for the Blues this season, with starting goaltender Jordan Binnington boasting a 3.28 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage. Former Coyote Thomas Greiss isn’t much better; he has played in 17 games and has a 3.51 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller plays better against the St. Louis Blues than pretty much any team. He hit the 60-point mark for the third time in his career in his last game with an assist, and he had two goals and an assist the last time the Coyotes and Blues met.
St. Louis: Pavel Buchnevich - The 27-year-old forward had an assist against the Kings and comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game point streak which saw him have a four-assist night against the San Jose Sharks. He had three assists the last time he faced the Coyotes.
Arizona: Brett Ritchie (personal), Jakub Voráček (concussion), Shea Weber (ankle), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
St. Louis: Jake Neighbours (upper body)
Tonight’s game will be at Mullett Arena at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and ESPN 620 AM.