After finishing up the month of October with seven wins, the Arizona Coyotes kept on rolling last week as the calendar flipped over to November.
The Coyotes recorded five points in three games last week, and they’ve racked up 20 points through 15 games on the season. That’s a 109-point pace over 82 games.
Needless to say, the Coyotes are off to an outstanding start this season, but not everyone is impressed by Arizona’s style of play. The ‘Yotes, who are allowing the second-fewest goals against per game this season, were called “boring” in an article posted by Sportsnet, a major Canadian media outlet.
If “boring” results in a 109-point season in the desert, so be it. You won’t hear any complaints from anyone in the Valley.
Coyotes Week in Review
After a listless performance against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 30, the Coyotes got back to work on Saturday evening with the Colorado Avalanche in town. The Avs, who had played the night before in Dallas, and were playing without Mikko Rantanen or Gabriel Landeskog, got off to a slow start in the opening period and the Coyotes quickly took advantage. Christian Dvorak scored a power-play goal less than seven minutes in before Phil Kessel scored from a sharp angle to double the lead later in the period at 15:52. Conor Garland added a third goal at 15:52 of the second period, and Arizona cruised to a 3-0 victory thanks to a 33-save shutout from Darcy Kuemper.
With another short homestand in the books, the Coyotes once again hit the road and started a two-games-in-two-nights roadie in Edmonton against Connor McDavid and the Oilers. McDavid scored a highlight-reel goal 1:31 in, but the Coyotes dominated most of the rest of the game. Using a “boring” defensive style of hockey, Arizona kept McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in check for the final 60 minutes of the game, as they won in overtime on a Derek Stepan goal, 3-2.
The Coyotes then headed southward to Calgary and wrapped up their short road trip on Tuesday night against the Flames. Arizona held a 3-1 lead late in this one, but they could not close out a potent Flames offense – Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Giordano scored less than a minute apart late in the third period, and Tkachuk scored again with less than a minute remaining in overtime to give Calgary a 4-3 victory.
A Look Ahead
After taking three points from their Alberta back-to-back, the Coyotes will return home and will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at Gila River Arena. After losing Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, and many other key players over the summer, the Blue Jackets are off to a rough start this season, as they’re 5-7-3 through their first 15 games of the 2019-20 campaign. The Coyotes need to take advantage of a struggling opponent in this one, which will get started at 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.
Another Kachina Saturday will then follow when the Minnesota Wild come to town. Like the Blue Jackets, Minnesota has also struggled so far in 2019-20 – they’re 5-9-1 and have allowed a prodigious amount of goals while scoring only a few of their own. On paper, this is another game Arizona should win if they want to consider themselves a true contender. Playoff teams beat teams they need to beat, and the Coyotes need to win this game, which will get started at 6:00 P.M. at Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes will then embark upon one of the toughest road trips of the season, starting on Monday night in our nation’s capital against the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. There isn’t really a team that Alex Ovechkin has struggled against in his career, but he’s feasted on the Coyotes in particular, recording 18 points in 18 career games against Arizona. The Coyotes will try to slow Ovi down in this one, which will begin at 7:00 P.M. in Washington, D.C (5:00 P.M. in Arizona).
The road trip will continue the next night, halfway across the country, against the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. There’s been no championship hangover in Missouri this season – Craig Berube’s club is 11-3-3 in their first 17 games and they look to have a legit chance to defend their title in 2019-20. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. local time (6:00 P.M. in Arizona) in the Gateway to the West.
Pacific Division Roundup
Before the season started, the Pacific Division was, arguably, the weakest of the NHL’s four divisions (on paper, anyway). However, the division currently boasts six teams with at least nine wins – no other division has more than three such teams.
It looks like it will be a battle all season long as the contenders on the West Coast fight for one of the Pacific’s three playoff spots.
Anaheim Ducks (9-7-1, 19 points)
- Last week: 1-1-1 (2-1 OTW vs VAN, 3-2 OTL vs CHI, 4-2 L vs MIN)
- Analysis: The Ducks continued to play .500 hockey last week, as their 1-1-1 record brought them to 6-7-1 since winning three straight games to start the season. It seems like this team can only win when they get solid goaltending – when the Ducks allow three goals or more, their record this season stands at 1-4-1.
- Player of the week: John Gibson – 1-1-0 record, 61 saves on 65 shots (.938 SV%, 1.98 GAA)
- This week: Sun vs EDM, Tue vs DET
Calgary Flames (9-7-2, 20 points)
- Last week: 3-1-0 (6-5 OTW at NSH, 3-0 W at CBJ, 4-2 L at WSH, 4-3 OTW vs AZ)
- Analysis: After hovering around the .500 mark for the first 13 games of the season, the Flames broke out last week, winning three of four to move multiple games above .500 for the first time. David Rittich is still struggling with consistency, but the Flames outscored their goaltending issues last week. Can they continue to do so?
- Player of the week: Matthew Tkachuk – 5 goals, 3 assists, +3, 14 SOG
- This week: Thu vs NJ, Sat vs STL, Wed vs DAL
Edmonton Oilers (10-5-2, 22 points)
- Last week: 1-1-1 (2-1 OTW at PIT, 3-2 OTL vs AZ, 5-2 L vs STL)
- Analysis: Edmonton continued to cool off last week – since their red-hot 7-1-1 start, Dave Tippett’s squad is just 3-4-1. Regression at the goaltending position has had a lot to do with the Oilers’ recent downturn – Mike Smith has allowed three goals or more in three of his last five starts, while Mikko Koskinen has done so in two of his last four outings.
- Player of the week: Leon Draisaitl – Goal, 3 assists, 7 SOG
- This week: Fri vs NJ, Sun at ANA, Tue at SJ
Los Angeles Kings (5-10-0, 10 points)
- Last week: 1-1-0 (4-3 OTW vs CHI, 3-1 L at TOR)
- Analysis: Is it time to blow it up and start over in Los Angeles? The Kings’ six highest-paid players are 29, 32, 36, 35, 33, and 34 years old, respectively. They’re not getting any younger, and, until Los Angeles moves on from some of them, the Kings aren’t going anywhere, either.
- Player of the week: Dustin Brown – 3 assists, 5 SOG
- This week: Thu at OTT, Sat at MTL, Tue vs MIN
San Jose Sharks (5-10-1, 11 points)
- Last week: 1-2-0 (3-2 L vs WPG, 5-2 L vs VAN, 4-2 W vs CHI)
- Analysis: The Sharks are 2-6-1 in their last nine games, and their goaltending has continued to be a huge problem in 2019-20. Neither Aaron Dell nor Martin Jones has gotten the job done this season, and the Sharks aren’t scoring enough to offset their goaltending woes as they did last year. It could be a long year in the Bay Area.
- Player of the week: Barclay Goodrow – Goal, 3 assists, +3, 6 SOG
- This week: Thu vs MIN, Sat vs NSH, Tue vs EDM
Vancouver Canucks (9-3-3, 21 points)
- Last week: 1-0-2 (2-1 OTL at ANA, 5-2 W at SJ, 2-1 OTL vs STL)
- Analysis: The Canucks won just once last week, but their point streak has now reached eight games (5-0-3). Vancouver has points in 12 of 15 games in 2019-20, and they’re looking every bit like a team that could keep rolling all season long.
- Player of the week: Jacob Markstrom – 2-0-0 record, 52 saves on 56 shots (.929 SV%, 1.91 GAA)
- This week: Thu at CHI, Fri at WPG, Sun vs NJ, Tue vs NSH
Vegas Golden Knights (9-5-2, 20 points)
- Last week: 1-0-2 (5-4 OTL vs MTL, 4-3 OTL vs WPG, 2-1 W at CBJ)
- Analysis: Vegas has yet to win a game in which Marc-Andre Fleury did not start. We talked about this last week, but the issue still remains – Gerard Gallant needs to find a reliable backup for “Flower” before the soon-to-be 35-year-old wears down.
- Player of the week: William Karlsson – Goal, 4 assists, +3, 8 SOG
- This week: Thu at TOR, Sat at WSH, Sun at DET, Wed vs CHI