A shootout loss, a collapse on home ice, and a solid road victory.
It was an up-and-down week for the Arizona Coyotes, but a productive one nonetheless. The club earned three points in three games, and retained their hold on the No. 2 spot in the Pacific Division through 29 games.
Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta continued to provide exceptional goaltending, but the offense’s inconsistent play was the difference between the 3-0-0 week that could have been, and the 1-1-1 week that was.
If the Coyotes can find a way to get Clayton Keller, Phil Kessel, Derek Stepan, and others to produce at a higher level offensively, this is a team that has the potential to make a lot of noise in the Stanley Cup playoffs come April.
Until that happens, the team will continue to play a lot of close games. With multiple teams nipping at their heels, the Coyotes need to continue winning those close games.
Coyotes Week in Review
After picking up a 4-3 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Coyotes got back to work on Black Friday in Las Vegas with their first visit of the season to T-Mobile Arena. If you’re a fan of goaltending, you probably enjoyed this contest.
The game featured 74 total shots on goal between the two teams, but only two of them went in – Alex Tuch and Jakob Chychrun scored 7:52 apart in the second period to provide the game’s only scoring, and the Coyotes eventually found themselves in their third consecutive shootout, where Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault beat Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper to lift the Golden Knights and netminder Malcolm Subban to a 2-1 triumph.
The Coyotes then returned to Glendale for a one-game “homestand” against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. The game could not have started off any better for Arizona – Nick Schmaltz and Derek Stepan beat Martin Jones on Arizona’s first two shots of the game from nearly the same spot on the ice, but it was all downhill from there.
Jones shut the door the rest of the way, which enabled Logan Couture, Dylan Gambrell, and Timo Meier to combine to score four unanswered goals in San Jose’s 4-2 win at Gila River Arena.
Arizona headed back out on the road after Saturday’s disappointing home loss and began a four-game trip on Tuesday evening in Columbus. Clayton Keller and Dean Kukan traded power-play goals early in the game before Carl Soderberg took over.
The veteran recorded primary assists on goals by Christian Fischer and Lawson Crouse in the second period, then added the empty-netter late in the third to help Arizona snap a two-game skid with a 4-2 victory at Nationwide Arena.
A Look Ahead
With their road trip off to a good start, the Coyotes will continue their swing through the Eastern time zone on Thursday evening in Philadelphia. The Flyers have made the playoffs only once in the past three seasons, but first-year head coach Alain Vigneault has his team playing solid hockey in 2019-20 – the Flyers are 16-7-5 through 28 games, good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The ‘Yotes are 2-0-1 in their last three visits to the Wells Fargo Center, but Philadelphia is 9-1-4 on home ice this season – this should be a good one, and a tough test for Rick Tocchet’s group. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. local time on Broad Street (5:00 P.M. in Arizona).
After wrapping things up in Philadelphia, the Coyotes will make the trip westward to Pittsburgh for their sole visit to PPG Paints Arena in 2019-20 on Friday night. Like their cross-state rivals, the Penguins are also in the midst of a solid season – their 34 points are fifth-best in the Eastern Conference, but the story of this one will undoubtedly be Phil Kessel, who will be playing in Pittsburgh for the first time since being traded over the summer.
Kessel should receive quite the ovation from the Penguins faithful after his contributions to two Stanley Cup championships during his time in the city. This one will get started at 7:00 P.M. in the Steel City (5:00 P.M. in Arizona).
The Coyotes will then travel to the Windy City and will wrap up their road trip with a Sunday night matchup at the United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks. Dating back to 2016, Chicago has been a difficult place to play for the Coyotes – Arizona is 1-5-0 in their last six visits, with the average margin of defeat in the losses being four goals. The Coyotes will need to show up and play well in front of the raucous Chicago crowd – puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 P.M. Central time (5:00 P.M. in Arizona).
With their road trip in the books, the Coyotes will return home and will kick off a three-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames. After the events of the last meeting between these teams, this one will be must-see TV. There definitely could be some fireworks – puck drop is at the normal weeknight time of 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.
Pacific Division Roundup
If the Coyotes win in Philadelphia on Thursday, they’ll hold sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division through 30 games. Raise your hand if you saw this coming.
Now put it down, you filthy liar.
Here’s a look at how Arizona’s division foes fared last week:
Anaheim Ducks (12-12-4, 28 points)
- Last week: 1-1-0 (3-0 L vs WPG, 4-2 W vs LA)
- Analysis: The Ducks have won only four times since Halloween, and they’ve fallen to 13th place in the Western Conference as a result. This likely will be a rebuilding year for the franchise – head coach Dallas Eakins should focus on developing young players, like Max Comtois, Sam Steel, and Troy Terry, during the season’s four remaining months.
- Player of the week: Hampus Lindholm – 3 assists, +1
- This week: Fri vs WSH, Sun at WPG, Tue at MIN
Calgary Flames (13-12-4, 30 points)
- Last week: 1-0-0 (3-1 W vs OTT)
- Analysis: American Thanksgiving turned into a mini-bye week for the Flames – they played only once, winning 3-1 on home ice over the Ottawa Senators. If there’s one group of players in the league that needs a breather after the week’s events, it’s Calgary.
- Player of the week: Elias Lindholm – 2 goals, +1
- This week: Thu vs BUF, Sat vs LA, Mon at COL, Tue at AZ
Edmonton Oilers (17-10-3, 37 points)
- Last week: 1-2-0 (5-2 L vs VAN, 3-2 W at VAN, 5-2 L vs OTT)
- Analysis: The “old Oilers” made multiple appearances last week – there were two 5-2 home losses sandwiched around a 3-2 road victory as the calendar flipped to December. Through 30 games, it has become clear that the Oilers are a very talented but very flawed team – there is little secondary scoring outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and the goaltending has shown absolutely no consistency whatsoever. Since a 7-1-0 start, the Oilers have gone 10-9-3, good for 16th in the league over that span. They’ve been the definition of average over the past seven weeks or so.
- Player of the week: Connor McDavid – Goal, 3 assists, 7 SOG
- This week: Fri vs LA, Sun vs BUF, Tue vs CAR
Los Angeles Kings (11-16-2, 24 points)
- Last week: 1-3-0 (4-1 L at SJ, 2-1 W vs WPG, 4-2 L at ANA, 3-1 L vs WSH)
- Analysis: The Kings managed to climb within three games of the .500 mark prior to Thanksgiving, but their first week following the holiday did not go as planned – Los Angeles scored just seven goals in four games en route to three regulation losses. Back to the drawing board.
- Player of the week: Nikolai Prokhorkin – 2 goals, +2
- This week: Fri at EDM, Sat at CGY, Tue vs NYR
San Jose Sharks (15-13-1, 31 points)
- Last week: 2-1-0 (4-1 W vs LA, 4-2 W at AZ, 5-2 L vs WSH)
- Analysis: In 14 games since Nov. 2, the Sharks have an .881 5-on-5 SV%, worst in the league. In 12 starts during that span, goaltender Martin Jones owns a .897 SV% and 2.86 GAA. How in God’s name are the Sharks 11-3-0 in those 14 games? Their recent hot streak has defied all logic and reason – how long can it continue? Was San Jose’s 5-2 home loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday a sign of things to come? I have so many questions.
- Player of the week: Logan Couture – 3 goals, +4, 9 SOG
- This week: Thu at CAR, Sat at TB, Sun at FLA, Tue at NSH
Vancouver Canucks (14-11-4, 32 points)
- Last week: 2-1-0 (5-2 W at EDM, 3-2 L vs EDM, 5-2 W vs OTT)
- Analysis: The Canucks have continued to keep their heads above water in the Pacific, but just barely – since Nov. 2, Vancouver has seen its cushion over the .500 mark be cut in half. This team has talent, but, at the top, they’re an extremely young group – are they ready to win?
- Player of the week: Tanner Pearson – 3 goals, 2 assists, +2, 9 SOG
- This week: Sat vs BUF, Tue vs TOR
Vegas Golden Knights (15-11-4, 34 points)
- Last week: 3-0-0 (2-1 SOW vs AZ, 4-1 W at NYR, 4-3 W at NJ)
- Analysis: Don’t look now, but the Golden Knights are 4-0-0 in their last four after starting 11-11-4 through 26 games. On paper, Vegas has, arguably, the most well-rounded team in the Pacific – will they continue to rise up the standings and resume their dominance out West?
- Player of the week: Alex Tuch – 3 goals, 3 assists, +2, 11 SOG
- This week: Thu at NYI, Sun vs NYR, Tue vs CHI