The Arizona Coyotes are about to host the impressive and very talented Avalanche for the first time since being crushed by them in last year’s playoffs.
The Arizona Coyotes (9-7-3) host the Colorado Avalanche (9-6-1) tonight and Saturday night at Gila River Arena in a brief two-game set. While the Coyotes have just won two incredible come-from-behind games against the Anaheim Ducks, the Avs have lost their past two games 6 to 2 to the Minnesota Wild and 3 to 0 to Vegas, but they still have three games in hand over the Yotes.
The Coyotes have outscored the Avalanche 52 to 46, but have given up 17 more goals than Colorado has. That is a scary statistic, as the Coyotes have had trouble scoring goals (until recently), and the Avalanche have a stingy “D” that often likes to go forward and participate in the attack.
As these games approach, how much credence should we give to the past, when the Avalanche beat the Coyotes 7 to 1 in two consecutive games during the playoffs. After all, it’s now six months later and we’re a third into a new season, and there have been significant roster changes to the Coyotes in particular. The Yotes have gotten younger, faster, and stronger, and more physical. Exhibit A: Brassard, Caggiula, Pitlick, Larsson, Hayden, Chaput, and Barrett Hayton.
The Avalanche have a stalwart goalkeeper in Philipp Grubauer, while the Coyotes boast about a steel curtain named Darcy Kuemper. Adin Hill, Kuemper’s praise-worthy backup, ensures that the Yotes’ goalkeeper tandem is top notch.
The top point leaders for Colorado are forwards Nathan MacKinnon (18 pts) and Mikko Rantanen (14 pts), and attacking defenders Cale Makar (13 pts) and Sam Girard (11 pts).
The Coyotes currently have 5 forwards (Garland, Kessel, Dvorak, Keller, Schmaltz) and one defender (Chychrun) that are in double digits in scoring. “D” men Jordan Oesterle and Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson have 8 points apiece, with Oesterle playing 19 games and OEL accumulating his 8 “apples” in only 9 games.
Needless to say, the Avalanche plan to beat their chests and rectify their recent losing ways by defeating the Desert Dogs and reclaiming their self-proclaimed superiority over that bunch of Coyotes in the desert. These should be two very competitive and entertaining games, and the Yotes will certainly use the results as a measuring stick in their quest for improvement and consistency.
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Let’s go Coyotes!