Monday Morning Howl: Coyotes Continue to Improve

Following their exciting overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 11 at Gila River Arena, the Arizona Coyotes kicked off their week in Calgary on Monday. Facing off against a rusty Flames team that had just returned from their bye week, the Coyotes dominated as they picked up a convincing 5-0 victory to avoid being swept by Calgary in the season series.

The Coyotes would be back in action again on Tuesday night against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers but would struggle defensively as they allowed five goals in the game’s final 37:09 to lose by the score of 5-2.

Arizona would then travel to Los Angeles to wrap up their three-game road trip at the Staples Center and were again able to take advantage of a team returning from its bye week as they defeated the Kings by a 5-3 margin.

On Saturday, the Coyotes returned home for their 20th anniversary celebration but had their party spoiled by the San Jose Sharks, who silenced the sellout Gila River Arena crowd with a 4-1 victory.

A Busy Week

Following their loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at Gila River Arena, the Coyotes will remain at home and will host another divisional opponent on Monday night in the Anaheim Ducks. This will be the fourth and final matchup of the season between these teams, and the Ducks will be looking to complete the season sweep as they’ve outscored the Coyotes by an 11-3 margin in the previous three contests. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.

After their game on Monday against Anaheim, the Coyotes will have two days off from game action before heading to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Thursday night. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the Coyotes have been very good when playing on the big stage in Chicago; including the 2012 playoffs, Arizona has a 7-3-1 record in their last 11 visits to the United Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. local time in the Windy City (6:30 P.M. in Arizona).

After wrapping things up in Chicago, the Coyotes will head down to Dallas to finish up their brief two-game road trip with a matchup against the Stars. The American Airlines Center has been unfriendly to the Coyotes in recent years; they’re winless in their last seven contests there and haven’t picked up a road victory over the Stars since Feb. 7, 2012. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. local time in Dallas (6:30 P.M. in Arizona).

The Coyotes will then return home to finish out their week against the Buffalo Sabres in what will be the team’s first Sunday home game since Mar. 22, 2015. The Coyotes have struggled against the Sabres as of late; they have a paltry 2-8-2 record in the last 12 meetings in the series and haven’t defeated Buffalo at home since Jan. 21, 2008. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 P.M. in Glendale.

Dvorak, Hanzal Heating Up

The Coyotes have averaged 3.5 goals per game so far in the month of February, and increased production from many of the team’s forwards has been the reason for the sudden increase in offensive efficiency. In particular, the Coyotes have received outstanding production from centers Martin Hanzal and Christian Dvorak; both players have scored five goals in February, while Dvorak has managed to chip in an additional three assists as well.

It has to be encouraging for the Coyotes to receive some offense from Dvorak this season; with a team-high plus-eight rating, the youngster has already nailed down the defensive aspect of the game during his rookie season and now appears to be figuring out the offensive game in the NHL as well.

Pacific Division Roundup

The Sharks picked up points in all three of their games last week and continue to hold a five-point lead over the Oilers and Ducks in the Pacific Division. Here’s how Arizona’s other division rivals fared last week:

Anaheim Ducks (31-19-10, 72 points)

  • Last week: 2-1-0
  • Analysis: The Ducks won two out of three last week, but they continue to struggle with inconsistency; they haven’t won back-to-back games since January 17-19 and have fallen to third in the Pacific as a result. They’ll need to string together some victories to keep their hopes of a fifth consecutive division title alive.
  • Player of the week: John Gibson – 2-1-0 record, 88 saves on 93 shots (.967 SV%), 2 shutouts
  • This week: Mon at AZ, Wed vs BOS, Sat at LA

Calgary Flames (29-26-4, 62 points)

  • Last week: 1-1-1
  • Analysis: After sleepwalking through their first game after their bye week on Monday against Arizona, Calgary bounced back to pick up three points in their final two games of the week to remain in a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
  • Player of the week: Brian Elliott – 1-0-1 record, 58 saves on 62 shots (.935 SV%)
  • This week: Tue at NSH, Thu at TB, Fri at FLA, Sun at CAR

Edmonton Oilers (32-19-8, 72 points)

  • Last week: 3-0-0
  • Analysis: The Oilers scored 14 goals in three games last week to finish out their slate of games with a perfect 3-0-0 record. They’re just five points behind San Jose for first place in the Pacific.
  • Player of the week: Connor McDavid – 2 goals, 4 assists, +5
  • This week: Tue at TB, Wed at FLA, Fri at WSH, Sun at NSH

Los Angeles Kings (28-26-4, 60 points)

  • Last week: 0-3-0
  • Analysis: The Kings had a disastrous week; they lost all three of their games in regulation and have fallen out of a playoff spot in the West. With just one victory in their last six games, they’ll need to get things going again in a hurry.
  • Player of the week: Tanner Pearson – 3 goals, assist, 10 shots
  • This week: Tue at COL, Thu vs BOS, Sat vs ANA

San Jose Sharks (35-18-7, 77 points)

  • Last week: 1-0-2
  • Analysis: The Sharks picked up four more points last week and now have points in nine of their last 10 contests. They’ll enter their bye week with a five-point lead over the Oilers and Ducks for first place in the Pacific.
  • Player of the week: Brent Burns – 3 goals, 2 assists, +5
  • This week: Sat at VAN

Vancouver Canucks (26-28-6, 58 points)

  • Last week: 1-3-0
  • Analysis: Things continue to fall apart in Vancouver; the Canucks are just 3-8-0 in their last 11 games and will need to regroup after their bye week in order to climb back into playoff contention.
  • Players of the week: Daniel Sedin – 3 assists, 9 shots, +1
  • This week: Sat vs SJ

Although they still remain in 29th place in the NHL, the Coyotes have shown significant improvement over the past few weeks. They’re 7-4-1 since Jan. 21 and have been able to avoid the lengthy losing streaks that had plagued them during the first half of the season. However, they’ll be tested this week with four games, including a tough back-to-back against Chicago and Dallas.