The Arizona Coyotes have won three consecutive games on the road. Can they beat the St. Louis Blues three more times at Gila River Arena?
When the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes announced that the game originally scheduled for April 15 was rescheduled for Friday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Gila River Arena in Glendale, I hoped that Coyotes Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be healthy and ready to play. As a fan, I’ve missed him and his leadership and the impact he’s had, and will have, on the younger guys on the team during his tenure.
There are differences of opinion among Coyotes fans regarding OEL’s contract, specifically its length and the millions he’s being paid. Social media discussions about the contract began prior to the Captain’s early-season injury, and now that he’s about to return to play, the pros and cons of having OEL on the roster have resurfaced.
Some fans have recently expressed their views that the Coyotes have done very well in Ekman-Larsson’s absence and thus don’t need him. They opine that he is expendable and should be traded to free up some space to add a play maker to next year’s roster when there’s a bit of wiggle room for General Manager Bill Armstrong to work with. Others argue that OEL’s legacy has been a good one and that he should not only remain with the team, but continue as its captain. Some will admit that his offensive impact as a goal scorer has lessened but his value as a consistent defenseman that can move the puck is still of value on a very young roster of impressionable and talented players.
Personally, I believe the argument that the Coyotes have proven that they can succeed long term without Ekman-Larsson is premature. The team has only played 12 of their 56 games this unique, ever-changing season. To wit: playing seven consecutive games against the same opponent!
I’m hoping that Yotes fans don’t assume that because the team has had recent success against the St. Louis Blues, the lower teams in the standings like the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and/or San Jose Sharks are easily beatable. The Coyotes have never had the fortune of being a “cream of the crop” team. They have been close to “bottom feeders” in the standings for nearly a decade, and that’s why the fans and the organization are so optimistic about this season’s early good fortunes. I think Oliver Ekman-Larsson is an asset to the Coyotes organization, not a liability. Time will tell.
Perhaps not losing Captain OEL in a trade is a blessing in disguise. I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance to work some magic on the ice – beginning Friday night.