It’s finally game day! We spoke all about it during today’s Morning Howl Report but now with only a few more hours till puck drop let’s highlight a few things to watch before the game starts in Anaheim.
The Anaheim Ducks did not have the best season last year, because of it they lost Corey Perry and added a new head coach to their franchise. Dallas Eakins, the new coach of the Ducks, spent two seasons coaching for the Edmonton Oilers from 2013-2015, the Oilers did not have much success.
The Arizona Coyotes on the other hand will have Darcy Kuemper in net to lead the team. Kuemper, who signed a two year contract extension yesterday, is the presumed starting goalie while Antti Raanta works out his conditioning issues in the AHL.
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The Arizona Coyotes will lean on Kuemper in his first game of the season, considering the Coyotes ranked 27th in goals scored last year, defense needs to be their strong suit.
The Anaheim Ducks had one of the best records in the preseason, finishing the 6 games with a record of 4-1-1 against other Pacific Division teams.
One area to watch in the game would be the special teams. The Coyotes had one of the worst power plays in the NHL last year, finishing with 16.28 % average on the PP. Going into the new year trying to score goals on the Power Play needs to be of the upmost importance of the Coyotes. Power play goals mean everything especially in a close game.
In the last 8 games of the season last year that the Coyotes lost, 7 of those games were games decided by 1 or 2 goals. The Arizona Coyotes were never truly out of it last year, and they need to build on that going into a new season.
Players like Clayton Keller, Phil Kessel, and Brad Richardson will be called on to score a lot of goals this year. The Coyotes did not have a single player cross the 20 goal mark last year, not one. If the Coyotes want to win they need to score goals it’s that simple.
It’s almost time for puck drop!