The Coyotes game on Saturday night against the New York Rangers will be important for a few reasons. First, and most importantly, it will be Hockey Fights Cancer night in Arizona as the Coyotes will take part in the NHL’s initiative to help support cancer care and research. Saturday will also be Keith Yandle’s return to the desert after being traded to the Rangers back in February. The Coyotes saw Yandle at Madison Square Garden on October 22 and the defenseman burned his former team with a power-play goal to help lead the Rangers to a 4-1 victory. This will also mark the end of the last multi-game homestand that the Coyotes will have for the next two weeks. Arizona will play six of their next seven games on the road and here is a look at some critical matchups during this stretch.
Arizona starts off this stretch with back-to-back games against their two rivals from southern California, the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings. The young Coyotes picked up convincing victories in Anaheim and Los Angeles earlier this season, outscoring the Ducks and Kings by a combined total of 8-1. While Anaheim has continued to scuffle in the first few weeks, Los Angeles has charged to the top of the Pacific Division by winning eight of their last 10 games, including a recent seven-game win streak.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick has shaken off his slow start to win seven of his last nine starts, while the Kings’ offense has scored three or more goals in six of their last eight contests. Arizona will look to get another victory at Staples Center and improve their 1-2 record in the second half of back-to-backs this season.
Arizona’s lone game at Gila River Arena during this stretch will be when the Edmonton Oilers visit Glendale on November 12. The Coyotes will go into this game looking to extend their dominance over the Oilers. Arizona has picked up at least one point in their last 18 games against Edmonton (15-0-3) with their last regulation loss to the Oilers coming on January 25, 2011. This was supposed to be Arizona’s first glimpse at Connor McDavid, the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Unfortunately for Edmonton and the NHL, McDavid suffered a significant injury on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, which has sidelined the rookie sensation long-term.
Near the end of this stretch of games, the Coyotes will travel to Montreal to face one of the league’s best teams, the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens lead the league in wins, points, goals/game and goals against/game, while ranking in the top three in power play and penalty kill percentage. Like the Oilers, Montreal has also recently lost one of their star players to injury, albeit for a much shorter span. Goaltender Carey Price, who was named the NHL’s second star of the month for October, has not played since October 29 due to a lower-body injury. Historically, Montreal has been a city that Arizona has struggled to win games on the road. Since moving from Winnipeg, the Coyotes have just two victories against the Canadiens in Montreal. However, one of those two wins came last season as Arizona erased an early 2-0 deficit to grab a 3-2 victory on February 1, which was the first career win for goaltender Louis Domingue.
Charles Woodall-Pike is a journalist who writes about the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.