Monday Morning Howl: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

After being off since Jan. 7 due to their league-mandated bye-week, the Arizona Coyotes returned to action on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets and used a four-goal first-period outburst to pick up a 4-3 victory over Paul Maurice’s squad.

However, things quickly went downhill again on Saturday night, as the Coyotes struggled offensively and were shut out by goaltender Jonathan Bernier and the Anaheim Ducks by a 3-0 margin.

On the Road Again

Following Saturday’s shutout loss to the Ducks, the Coyotes will travel north to Alberta to take on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. The Coyotes have points in 25 of their last 26 games against the Oilers but dropped the most recent contest in the series in regulation in Glendale on Dec. 21. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M at Rogers Place.

The Coyotes will then head over to Manitoba on Wednesday for their second matchup in as many weeks against the Winnipeg Jets. The Coyotes scored four first-period goals last Friday against the Jets, but let them back into the game as they had to sweat out the final minutes of the third period in a 4-3 victory. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 P.M. in Winnipeg (5:30 P.M. in Arizona).

Following their game in Winnipeg, the Coyotes will make the short flight down to St. Paul and will take on the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in the second half of a back-to-back. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. at the Xcel Energy Center (6:00 P.M. in Arizona).

The Coyotes will then return home to Gila River Arena on Saturday night and will kick off a five-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Coyotes will undoubtedly be looking to turn things around against Jon Cooper’s squad; they’ve dropped four straight matchups against the Lightning and haven’t defeated them since a 4-3 shootout victory on Mar. 10, 2014. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 P.M in Glendale.

Smith Goes Hollywood

Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith has undoubtedly been the team’s best player this season, and he’s been rewarded with a spot on the 2017 Pacific Division All-Star team roster.

Smith arguably has been the only reason why the Coyotes have been competitive this season, and, as a result, is a very deserving all-star. He should represent the Coyotes well at the 2017 All-Star Game festivities in Los Angeles.

Pacific Division Roundup

The Ducks have points in 11 of their last 12 and now hold sole possession of first place in the Pacific. Here’s how Arizona’s other division rivals fared last week:

Anaheim Ducks (24-13-9, 57 points)

  • Last week: 3-0-1
  • Analysis: The Ducks picked up seven out of eight possible points last week, and have claimed sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division for the first time this season. Can they win their fifth straight division title?
  • Player of the week: John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier – 3-0-1 record, 116 saves on 119 shots (.975 SV%), 2 shutouts (combined totals)
  • This week: Tue vs TB, Thu vs COL, Sat at MIN

Calgary Flames (23-20-3, 49 points)

  • Last week: 1-2-1
  • Analysis: The Flames scored just five goals in four games last week, but managed to pick up three points and remain in a playoff spot due to solid goaltending from Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott. With the Kings, Predators, and Canucks all within three points, the Flames will need to quickly start scoring again.
  • Player of the week: Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott – 1-2-1 record, 110 saves on 117 shots (.940 SV%) (combined totals)
  • This week: Tue vs FLA, Thu vs NSH, Sat vs EDM

Edmonton Oilers (23-15-7, 53 points)

  • Last week: 2-1-0
  • Analysis: The Oilers started their six-game homestand with a 5-3 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday, but bounced back with overtime wins over both New Jersey and Calgary on Thursday and Saturday to get things back on track.
  • Player of the week: Leon Draisaitl – Overtime goal, shootout goal, 2 assists
  • This week: Mon vs AZ, Wed vs FLA, Fri vs NSH, Sat at CGY

Los Angeles Kings (22-17-4, 48 points)

  • Last week: 2-1-0
  • Analysis: The Kings won two out of three last week, and appear to be hitting their stride as they’ve won five of their last seven. Anze Kopitar may have finally broken out of his slump, as he’s recorded seven points in his last four games.
  • Player of the week: Anze Kopitar – Goal, 5 assists, +3
  • This week: Mon vs TB, Wed vs SJ, Sat at NYI

San Jose Sharks (25-16-2, 52 points)

  • Last week: 1-2-0
  • Analysis: The Sharks started things off last week with a 5-3 road victory over the Oilers on Tuesday, but then proceeded to lose their final two games of the week in regulation to fall into third place in the Pacific.
  • Player of the week: Brent Burns – 2 goals, 3 assists
  • This week: Mon vs WPG, Wed at LA, Thu vs TB, Sat vs COL

Vancouver Canucks (20-19-6, 46 points)

  • Last week: 0-0-3
  • Analysis: The Canucks lost all three of their games last week, but managed to get each of them to overtime and were able to stay in playoff contention as a result.
  • Players of the week: Brandon Sutter – 2 goals, assist, +2
  • This week: Tue vs NSH, Fri vs FLA, Sun at CHI

The Coyotes made some progress in the first period against the Jets on Friday but quickly went backward when they were shut out in the following five periods. They’ll need to get things turned around on Monday night against the Oilers.