Monday Morning Howl: Coyotes Move Forward

After dropping the opening game of their homestand on Oct. 29, the Coyotes returned to the ice last Tuesday and used a three-goal second period outburst to defeat the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena by the score of 3-2.

The Coyotes wrapped up their homestand on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators and survived seven trips to the penalty box, including one in overtime, to earn a 3-2 shootout victory.

The Coyotes traveled to Anaheim on Friday looking to extend their winning streak to three, but they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Ducks in the second half of a back-to-back to close out the week with a 2-1-0 record.

Back in Action

Following Friday’s defeat in Anaheim, the banged-up Coyotes are off until Tuesday, when they will travel to Denver for a matchup against the Colorado Avalanche. The Coyotes were defeated by the Avalanche at Gila River Arena less than two weeks ago and will be looking to exact a bit of revenge with a road victory of their own at the Pepsi Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. in Denver.

On Thursday, the Coyotes will return home for a matchup against rookie sensation Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets. The Coyotes historically have played well against the Jets franchise at home; they hold a 10-1-1-1 all-time home record against Winnipeg since they came into the league in 1999 as the Atlanta Thrashers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M.

The Coyotes will finish out the week on Saturday night when they’ll take on Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins at Gila River Arena. The Coyotes have had some problems with the Bruins in recent years, as they’ve dropped the last eight matchups in the series. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 P.M.

Dvorak Making Most of Second Chance

When Christian Dvorak was sent down to the AHL last Monday, many expected that he’d immediately step in and play top-six minutes with the Tucson Roadrunners. However, an injury to center Martin Hanzal on Tuesday night against San Jose meant that Dvorak had to be recalled before even playing a game in the AHL. Dvorak returned to the Coyotes lineup on Thursday and wasted absolutely no time in making an impact on the game, as he scored his first career NHL goal on Pekka Rinne during the first period.

Dvorak also picked up an assist on the Coyotes’ lone goal of the night on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks. With two points in his last two games, and five points in nine games overall, it appears as if the youngster is ready for a bigger role in Arizona.

McGinn Making Early Impact

Although forward Jamie McGinn missed the first five games of the season with an upper-body injury, he’s more than made up for his absence in his six games since as he has three goals and an assist since returning to the lineup.

McGinn has quickly developed outstanding chemistry with Arizona’s other forwards, and has proved to be one of the Coyotes’ better offseason acquisitions.

Power Play Struggles Continue

One of the reasons for Arizona’s struggles so far in 2016-17 has been the team’s ineffective power play. The Coyotes have scored just three power-play goals on 34 chances this season, and haven’t lit the lamp on the man advantage since Oliver Ekman-Larsson fired a wrister past Cory Schneider in the third-period against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 25. In addition, the team has allowed a multitude of shorthanded chances and has surrendered two shorthanded goals as a result.

If the Coyotes are going to have any chance at making a run at a playoff spot this season, they’re going to need some timely scoring and consistency from their power-play unit.

Hanzal, Stone Banged Up

The Coyotes are dealing with quite a few injuries at the moment, as Martin Hanzal and Michael Stone are both a bit banged up. It does appear as if Stone will be ready to return to the lineup soon, but Hanzal’s return could still be a few more games away.

In addition, goaltender Mike Smith also remains out, but he has resumed skating and could return in as little as a week.

Pacific Division Roundup

The Edmonton Oilers continue to lead the Pacific, and a 5-1-1 road record is a big reason for their success. Here’s how Arizona’s other division rivals fared last week:

Anaheim Ducks (6-5-2)

  • Last week: 3-1-0
  • Analysis: Watch out for the Ducks; they’re 6-2-1 since getting off to a 0-3-1 start, and are benefiting from the services of Rickard Rakell, who has six points in four games since ending his holdout.
  • Player of the week: Rickard Rakell – 3 goals, 3 assists
  • This week: Wed at CBJ, Thu at CAR, Sat at NSH

Calgary Flames (5-8-1)

  • Last week: 1-3-0
  • Analysis: Defense and goaltending continue to be an issue for the Flames, who have allowed four goals or more in three of their last four games. The offense hasn’t helped much either, however, as the team has scored one goal or fewer in four of their last five games.
  • Player of the week: Michael Frolik – Goal, 2 assists
  • This week: Thu vs DAL, Sat vs NYR

Edmonton Oilers (9-3-1)

  • Last week: 2-1-1
  • Analysis: The Oilers have regressed a bit since their 7-1-0 start, but remain in first place in the Pacific. Edmonton now will begin arguably their toughest two-week stretch of the season, as they’ll face off against the Penguins, Rangers, Ducks, Kings, Stars (twice) and Blackhawks over the next seven games. We should learn a lot about the Oilers in the coming days.
  • Player of the week: Patrick Maroon – 2 goals, assist
  • This week: Tue at PIT, Fri vs DAL, Sun vs NYR

Los Angeles Kings (6-6-0)

  • Last week: 2-1-0
  • Analysis: The Kings have won six of their past nine games, but they were shut out in all three losses over that span. If they’re able to gain some consistency on the offensive end of the ice, they could once again become the team to beat in the Pacific.
  • Player of the week: Devin Setoguchi – 2 goals, +1
  • This week: Tue at TOR, Thu at MTL, Fri at OTT, SUN at WPG

San Jose Sharks (6-6-0)

  • Last week: 0-3-0
  • Analysis: After winning all three of their games two weeks ago, the Sharks lost all three of their games last week. They continue to struggle with consistency issues but still find themselves in playoff position in the weak Pacific Division.
  • Player of the week: Brent Burns – Goal, 24 shots
  • This week: Tue at WSH, Thu at FLA, Sat at TB

Vancouver Canucks (4-7-1)

  • Last week: 0-3-0
  • Analysis: After a promising 4-0-0 start, the wheels have fallen off in Vancouver. The Canucks have lost eight straight games and have struggled in the offensive zone; they’ve been shut out in four of their last six games and have scored just three power-play goals in 39 opportunities this season.
  • Player of the week: Jannik Hansen – 2 assists
  • This week: Mon at NYI, Tue at NYR, Thu at DET, Sun vs DAL

The Coyotes will have a chance to continue their positive momentum with two more home games this week. If they’re able to continue getting solid goaltending from Louis Domingue, who was outstanding against San Jose and Nashville last week, they can compete with anyone.