Monday Morning Howl: Extra Hockey for Coyotes

The well-rested Coyotes got their week started in Calgary on Wednesday as they took on the Flames in their first game since Nov. 12, but were unable to get their offense going as they lost in overtime by the score of 2-1 to a Flames team that was playing in the second half of a back-to-back.

The Coyotes made the trip to Vancouver on Thursday looking to reverse their fortunes and break their losing streak, but they’d yet again lose an overtime decision, as Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton scored on an overtime penalty shot to give his team the 3-2 victory.

Following back-to-back road overtime defeats, Arizona returned home on Saturday for a matchup against the San Jose Sharks. The game headed to overtime yet again, but the Coyotes would come out on top this time, as Martin Hanzal deflected Alex Goligoski’s shot past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones and into the net to give Arizona the 3-2 victory.

Division Rivalries Renewed

The Coyotes will be off until Wednesday when they’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks at Gila River Arena. They’ll certainly be looking to avenge last week’s contest, as they were defeated by the Canucks on an overtime penalty shot in last Thursday’s matchup at Rogers Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 P.M. in Glendale.

Arizona will be off for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday but will be back in action in the first leg of a home-and-home with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night at Gila River Arena. The Coyotes hold a 19-0-4 record against Edmonton since their last regulation loss to the Oilers on January 25, 2011, and will be looking to extend their point streak against Edmonton to 24 games that night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. in Glendale.

The Coyotes will then finish out their home-and-home with the Oilers on Sunday afternoon at the brand-new Rogers Place in Edmonton. The Oilers won four of their first five games in their new arena, but have since lost three straight in the House That McDavid Built. Puck drop is scheduled for 1:00 P.M. in Edmonton.

Smith Comes Back Strong

Goaltender Mike Smith returned to the lineup last Wednesday in Calgary for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury in Ottawa on Oct. 18, and wasted absolutely no time in making an impact on the game, as he stopped 22 of the 24 shots he saw and kept the Coyotes in a game that they arguably had no business being in. Smith would then turn in a vintage performance against the Sharks on Saturday night, as the 34-year-old veteran stopped 43 of 45 shots and led the Coyotes to a 3-2 overtime triumph.

If Smith stays healthy and can continue to provide outstanding goaltending, the Coyotes could be able to make a run and get back into contention this season.

Ekman-Larsson, Murphy Slumping

While rookie defenseman Tony DeAngelo has shined since coming up to the NHL two weeks ago, other Coyotes defensemen haven’t been so fortunate lately; in particular, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Connor Murphy have struggled badly in recent weeks. Ekman-Larsson has just two assists this month and hasn’t tickled the twine since Oct. 27. Murphy, on the other hand, has been a disaster in his own zone this month; he has a team-worst minus-six rating in November and was a healthy scratch against the Flames last week as well. The Coyotes are going to need more from their top two defensemen if they’re going to turn things around this season.

Strome Headed Back to Junior

It appears as if the Coyotes have seen enough from Dylan Strome: the team announced on Sunday afternoon that last year’s third-overall pick has been sent back to his junior team after playing in just seven NHL games this season.

Strome was expected to step in and immediately make a significant impact as a rookie, but was unable to live up to these lofty expectations, as he recorded just a single point and a minus-five rating in seven games in a Coyotes uniform this season. It certainly has to be disappointing for Coyotes fans to see the highly-touted Strome be sent back to junior during his first year as a pro, but the youngster clearly wasn’t ready for the NHL this season and is ineligible to play in the AHL due to the CHL’s age rules. However, fans shouldn’t panic yet; Strome is still just 19 years old and will get the first-line minutes that he needs for his development in the OHL.

Richardson Lost to Broken Leg

The Coyotes got Mike Smith and Martin Hanzal back from injury last week, but they immediately lost center Brad Richardson to a broken leg on Thursday in Vancouver. Richardson fell awkwardly after colliding with Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin and was taken to the hospital after being carted off of the ice, where he was diagnosed with a broken tibia and fibula.

Richardson obviously will be out for an extended period of time, but there’s a chance he could return at some point this season if his rehab goes well. Other than Richardson, the Coyotes are (finally) skating fully healthy once again.

Pacific Division Roundup

The Edmonton Oilers have squandered their lead in the Pacific and now find themselves in a three-way tie with the Ducks and Kings for first place in the division. Here’s how Arizona’s other division rivals fared last week:

Anaheim Ducks (9-7-3)

  • Last week: 2-1-0
  • Analysis: Anaheim won two out of three last week, but they dropped Sunday’s game against the Kings to fall into a three-way tie in the Pacific. They continue to get outstanding production from Jakob Silfverberg, who is on pace for a breakout 30-goal season.
  • Player of the week: Jakob Silfverberg – Goal, 3 assists
  • This week: Tue vs NYI, Fri vs CHI, Sat at SJ

Calgary Flames (8-11-1)

  • Last week: 3-1-0
  • Analysis: Things continue to go from bad to worse in Calgary, as the Flames have lost Johnny Gaudreau for at least six weeks due to a broken finger. The Flames managed to win three out of four last week, but one has to believe that the injury to Gaudreau will catch up with them eventually.
  • Player of the week: Chad Johnson – 3-1-0 record, 89 saves on 95 shots (.937 SV%), 1 SO
  • This week: Mon at BUF, Wed at CBJ, Fri at BOS, Sun at PHI

Edmonton Oilers (10-8-1)

  • Last week: 1-2-0
  • Analysis: Connor McDavid helped to end Edmonton’s five-game losing streak with his first career hat trick on Saturday night in Dallas, but the Oilers are going to need more from their other players if they wish to break out of their current slump. Edmonton is just 3-7-1 since getting out to a 7-1-0 start this season.
  • Player of the week: Connor McDavid – 3 goals
  • This week: Mon vs CHI, Wed at COL, Fri at AZ, Sun vs AZ

Los Angeles Kings (10-9-1)

  • Last week: 3-1-0
  • Analysis: Peter Budaj continues to hold down the fort in Los Angeles; he’s 3-1-1 in his last five starts and will need to keep up this level of play in order to keep the Kings in playoff contention.
  • Player of the week: Jeff Carter – 4 goals, 2 assists
  • This week: Wed vs NYI, Sat vs CHI

San Jose Sharks (9-8-1)

  • Last week: 0-2-1
  • Analysis: San Jose’s maddening inconsistency continues; after sweeping all three of their games two weeks ago, they dropped all three of their games last week. The Sharks will need to find a way to string some wins together if they plan on going anywhere this season.
  • Player of the week: Joe Pavelski – Goal, assist
  • This week: Mon vs NJ, Wed vs CHI, Fri vs NYI, Sat vs ANA

Vancouver Canucks (7-10-2)

  • Last week: 1-1-1
  • Analysis: Vancouver is back to playing respectable hockey once again; the Canucks are 3-2-1 since Nov. 8 and will need to continue playing consistent hockey in order to climb back into the race in the Pacific.
  • Player of the week: Daniel Sedin – Goal, 3 assists
  • This week: Wed at AZ, Fri at DAL, Sat at COL

The Coyotes will enter this week looking to extend their three-game point streak, and appear to have a good chance to do so, as they face the struggling Canucks at home on Wednesday, then get two matchups against the Oilers, a team the Coyotes have absolutely dominated in recent years. If the Coyotes are going to string some wins together, this is the week to do so.