The Runner Sports

Arizona Coyotes’ Week In Review

Arizona Coyotes played four games in six nights

The schedule makers weren’t kind to many NHL teams this season, especially the Arizona Coyotes. The new rule to allow every team to have a five-day break from games or practices really puts stress on scheduling games.

Starting with a rare Monday night game, the Arizona Coyotes played the lowly Colorado Avalanche. They came away with a close 1-0 victory, which should have been at least a three or four goal win considering all the chances they had. Brendan Perlini, who scored the only goal of the game fed Tobias Rieder on the off-wing, but was stopped by the Avs’ goalie Calvin Pickard with 5:35 left in the second period.

Max Domi also had two excellent opportunities to score. His first was a clean breakaway, courtesy of an outstanding outlet pass from Radim Vrbata. Domi tried a couple of dekes and fakes, but was denied by Pickard with 16:10 remaining in the last period. Domi also had another semi-breakaway where he hit the crossbar after beating Pickard on the shot.

Tobias Rieder had at least three scoring chances which he failed to complete. The most embarrassing was when the Avalanche had pulled Pickard for the man advantage. Rieder shot a backhand shot with some pressure towards the open net, but it missed wide right.

In the end, Mike Smith earned his 22nd career shutout with the Arizona Coyotes. He passed former Coyotes’ net-minders Ilya Bryzgalov and Nikolai Khabibulin, with this shutout.

No rest in sight

The Coyotes had to follow up with a back-to-back game scenario by taking on the arch rival Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night in La La land. The rivalry between these two teams is intense, and this game wasn’t any different. The two teams have different paths to end this 2016-17 season. The Kings are still fighting for a playoff spot, while the Coyotes rest in the Pacific Division basement.

Louie Domingue got the start since this was back-to-back games for the Yotes. He came up big, playing his best game between the pipes in a while by stopping 44 shots. The star of this game had to be Max Domi, whose two clutch goals paced the Coyotes’ 3-2 overtime shootout victory.

The key play in this game occurred when Kings’ star defenseman Drew Doughty decided to ice the puck while the Coyotes had pulled Domingue in the last minute of the game. In an effort to inflate his own statistics, his rink-long effort into an empty net trickled wide as the puck seemed to hit something along the way.

That gave the Coyotes one last chance with a faceoff in the Kings’ zone. Christian Dvorak won the key faceoff with 49.4 seconds remaining, and the puck bounced around the slot area. Doan did a spin-around pass/shot towards the L.A. net which headed directly to a wide open Domi near the right crease. It was an easy tap-in for Domi, who has been on fire of late.

The game went into overtime, with no team lighting the goal lamp. Then, as if drama is a needed ingredient especially when playing in L.A., the shootout had all one could take as far as excitement was concerned. The goalies dominated as big saves continued until the 11th round of shooters. Anthony DeAngelo got the eventual shootout winner with a quick release wrist shot Ben Bishop couldn’t handle.

The Coyotes took the 3-2 series lead against the Kings, with one final game remaining in L.A. on April 2. It is quite uncertain if that game will come anywhere near the entertainment value of this shootout win for the Coyotes. They definitely played spoiler by taking away a vital point from the Kings’ playoff plans.

Back home to face Detroit

With just one day’s rest, the Coyotes were back at home to face the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings are having a tough season, as they face the very real prospect of failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. The Coyotes handled the Red Wings easily back on December 13, coming away with a 4-1 win. In this Thursday night affair, the game was tied four times, and the fight in the Coyotes was evident and encouraging. When Lawson Crouse tied the game at three on a short-handed goal at 7:36 of the last period, it displayed that the Coyotes can come back in any game.

Yet, they also need to work on retaining the lead once they obtain it. After Crouse’s clutch goal, they gave one up to veteran Henrik Zetterberg at 13:55 of the third stanza to tie the game again. Luckily, the Arizona Coyotes bounced back one more time at 17:30 when rookie sensation Jakob Chychrun’s shot found pay dirt through a maze of players. It was Chuychurn’s seventh goal of the year.

The Red Wings didn’t quit, and after a scoreless overtime came away with a shootout goal to send the Coyotes down to defeat. The Coyotes still managed to collect a point, and over the last three games acquired five points.

Facing the Blues can give you the blues

The St. Louis Blues know how to defeat the Arizona Coyotes. Dating back to the 2013-14 season, the Blues have managed to come away winners against the Coyotes nine games out of 10 attempts. The one victory for the Yotes was an overtime win on November 12, 2013.

In the Saturday night affair this time, the results were much the same. This game saw the Coyotes at a disadvantage very early as rookie defenseman Anthony DeAngelo was ejected from the game for a hit from behind just 1:56 into the game. DeAngelo was the hero in the shootout in L.A., but put his team at a loss early in this game causing other blue-liners to log extra minutes in his absence.

The Blues’ domination of the Desert Dogs remained intact as they won 3-0, and outshot Arizona 16-3 in the opening period. They have won seven of eight games, and this win tied them with the Nashville Predators for third place in the Central Division. The more important factor for the Blues is they have the lead over Nashville for the third position in the division due to their 38 wins. Nashville only has 35 in that tie-breaking category.

Speaking of the Predators, they will be next opponent for the Coyotes on Monday night, kicking off a five-game road trip. This trip will feature five games in eight days as the NHL schedule makers are continuing their grueling fatigue formula on the Coyotes. This will be the third meeting between the two teams, with Arizona winning both contests this season. There couldn’t be a bigger game for Nashville’s playoff fate than this game. The Coyotes can again play the role of spoiler with a win.

Coyotes’ GM John Chayka announced Sunday that the team has gone to its AHL farm team in Tucson once again to supplement the loss of players due to injuries. Shane Doan was absent from the Blues game due to a lower-body injury, and is considered day-to-day. With DeAngelo possibly receiving another suspension due to his dangerous hit from behind, Chayka called up Zbynek Michalek who will see his first action since being sent down to Tucson in October. Laurent Dauphin was also summoned to replace Doan on the front line.

The unattractive part of this road trip will be when the Arizona Coyotes have to meet the St.Louis Blues at the end of the trip, followed by a home game against them two days later.

Their success rate against the Blues has been less than competitive going 0-12-1 in their last 13 contests. The powerful Washington Capitals then invade Glendale.

The staying power and character of the Coyotes will be tested on this trip, as well as when they return home.