Monday Morning Howl: Road Warriors

The Arizona Coyotes got their week started on Monday night in Pittsburgh against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins and were dominated in all aspects of the game as they lost their fourth consecutive road contest by a 7-0 margin.

However, the team bounced back on Tuesday in their final visit to Joe Louis Arena. Despite being outshot by a 38-19 margin, the Coyotes picked up a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on the second night of a back-to-back to get their road trip back on track.

The Coyotes continued their positive momentum on Thursday at the Air Canada Centre, as the newly-acquired Peter Holland burned his former team with the game-winning shootout goal in Arizona’s 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

However, things would come crashing back down for the Coyotes on Saturday in frigid St. Paul, Minnesota; sloppy and undisciplined play in both the offensive and defensive zones led to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Wild.

Home Sweet Home

Following Saturday’s defeat in Minnesota, the Coyotes will return to Gila River Arena on Monday and will begin a five-game homestand against the Calgary Flames. The Coyotes have already suffered two overtime defeats this season at the hands of the Flames and will undoubtedly be looking to exact a bit of revenge on their division rivals on the night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. MST in Glendale.

On Wednesday, the Coyotes will host Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in the teams’ third matchup of the young season. The Coyotes are 21-0-4 against the Oilers in their last 25 games and will be looking to extend their point streak over Edmonton to 26 consecutive contests. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. in Glendale.

Arizona’s final game before the league’s holiday break will be on Friday, as they’ll host the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Coyotes defeated the Leafs in a shootout by the score of 3-2 last week and will be looking to complete the season sweep at Gila River Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.

Holland Makes Instant Impact

It took newly-acquired forward Peter Holland a few days to sort out visa issues that prevented him from suiting up for the Coyotes, but the veteran center proved to be worth the wait; he recorded two assists on Tuesday in Detroit in his first game with the Coyotes, and recorded the game-winning shootout goal in Toronto on Thursday against his former team.

Holland has made an immediate impact with his new team and will get another crack at the Maple Leafs on Friday at Gila River Arena.

Can Smith Hold Up?

Goaltender Mike Smith continued to play well last week and helped the Coyotes pick up two more victories in games that they arguably had no business winning. First, he stopped 37 of the 38 shots he saw in Detroit on Tuesday and then stopped 44 of the 46 shots he faced on Thursday against Toronto. In addition, Smith came up big in the shootout against the Maple Leafs; he was aided by the goalposts as he stopped all three Leafs shooters.

However, as good as he’s been this season, Smith needs some help from his teammates. The Coyotes have been outshot in 12 consecutive games, and have been downright awful in their own zone this season. They’ve consistently hung Smith out to dry, but the veteran netminder has stepped up and kept the Coyotes competitive. However, he’s faced an immense amount of shots this season, and likely won’t be able to continue playing at this level without some help from the team in front of him.

Pacific Division Roundup

The Sharks won three of four last week, and have assumed control over first place in the Pacific Division. Here’s how Arizona’s other division rivals fared last week:

Anaheim Ducks (16-11-5)

  • Last week: 1-2-0
  • Analysis: Anaheim struggled badly on the defensive end of the ice last week; they allowed six goals in each of their two losses and had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins in their lone victory of the week on Thursday. Things won’t get much easier for them this week, as they’ll play three games in four nights in Eastern Canada.
  • Player of the week: Rickard Rakell — 3 goals, 2 assists
  • This week: Mon at TOR, Tue at MTL, Thu at OTT

Calgary Flames (16-15-2)

  • Last week: 0-2-0
  • Analysis: Chad Johnson’s hot streak came screeching to a halt last week; he allowed four goals in each of his two starts and will need to get things back on track in order for Calgary to remain in playoff contention.
  • Player of the week: T.J. Brodie — Goal, assist
  • This week: Mon at AZ, Tue at SJ, Fri vs VAN

Edmonton Oilers (16-12-5)

  • Last week: 1-1-0
  • Analysis: The Oilers’ inconsistent play continued last week with a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jackets and a 3-2 shootout victory over the Lightning. They’re just 9-11-5 in their last 25 games and will need to get things going again before they fall out of playoff contention.
  • Player of the week: Mark Letestu — 2 assists, +1, 9 shots on goal
  • This week: Mon at STL, Wed at AZ, Fri at SJ

Los Angeles Kings (16-13-2)

  • Last week: 2-2-0
  • Analysis: The Kings opened a season-long nine-game road trip with an embarrassing 6-3 loss in Buffalo, but bounced back with back-to-back victories in Detroit and Pittsburgh. However, they ended the week with a thud, as they were shut out 1-0 by the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
  • Player of the week: Tyler Toffoli — 3 goals, 2 assists, +5
  • This week: Tue at CBJ, Thu at NSH, Fri at DAL

San Jose Sharks (19-12-1)

  • Last week: 3-1-0
  • Analysis: The Sharks won three out of four on the road last week, and will now return home for two games at the Shark Tank before the league’s holiday break.
  • Player of the week: Brent Burns — Goal, 4 assists, +3, 13 shots
  • This week: Tue vs CGY, Fri vs EDM

Vancouver Canucks (13-16-3)

  • Last week: 1-1-1
  • Analysis: Vancouver lost a wild 8-6 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, but bounced back with points in back-to-back games to close out the week.
  • Player of the week: Sven Baertschi — 2 goals, 3 assists, +2
  • This week: Tue vs WPG, Thu vs WPG, Fri at CGY

The Coyotes split their four games during last week’s tough road trip, and will now return home to Gila River Arena looking to get back on track. Arizona has played better at home over the past few seasons and has had success against all three of this week’s opponents in the past as well. Will they be able to pick up a few victories this week before the league’s holiday break? We’ll soon find out.