Arizona Coyotes Visit Minnesota for 3 Critical Games vs the Wild

Mar 8, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) celebrates defeating the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) celebrates defeating the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Arizona Coyotes begin an important three-game series with the upward-trending, third-place Minnesota Wild on Friday night.

The Arizona Coyotes (12-10-4 and 28 pts) hope to rebound from an ugly, “burn the film” game in Denver beginning Friday night when they open a three-game series against the ever pesky Minnesota Wild (15-8-1 and 31 pts).

In their last ten games, the Wild are 7-2-1, while the visiting Arizona Coyotes are 5-4-1. The Wild have two games in hand over the Yotes.

Here are some of the teams’ stat leader comparisons as of March 11:

#18 Christian Dvorak – 9 Goals
#14 Joel Ericksson Ek – 10 Goals

#83 Conor Garland – 22 Points
#97 Kirill Kaprizov – 20 Points

#83 Conor Garland – 14 Assists
#18 Jordan Greenway – 14 Assists

#18 Christian Dvorak – 53.31% Faceoff win percentage
#13 Nick Bonino – 52.75% Faceoff win percentage

#32 Antti Raanta – .912 Save percentage (4 Wins) – GAA: 3.39
#34 Kaapo Kahkonen – .922 Save percentage (11 Wins) – GAA: 2.19

The Minnesota Wild have only 6 players on their roster age 25 or younger (born in 1995 or later), including 5 forwards, no defenders, and 1 goalkeeper (Kahkonen). Five additional players were born in 1994.

Impressively, what the Wild have right now (besides momentum) are nine players in double figures in points and 3 with 10 or more assists. Quality players like Zach Parise, Jordan Greenway, and young gun Kirill Kaprizov are leaders on offense and stalwarts like Ryan Suter, Ian Cole, Jonas Brodin, and Captain Jared Spurgeon anchor the defense.

Kaprizov (7G 13A 20 pts), only 23, is a fan favorite and in the discussion for the Calder Trophy, an award presented to the player who is “most proficient in his first year of competition” in the National Hockey League. Kaprizov fine-tuned his game in Russia prior to joining the Wild, and it has paid off.

The Coyotes split a pair of games with the Wild at Gila River Arena recently, losing the first one 5 to 1 on a Friday night, and then defeating the road weary boys from Minnesota 5 to 2 on Saturday, scoring 5 unanswered goals in the process.

The Wild have scored 75 goals in 24 games, while the Coyotes have tallied 69 in 26 games. Minnesota has only given up 63 goals and have scored 12 more than their opponents, while the Yotes have given up 77 goals (14 more than the Wild), and 8 more than they’ve scored.

So what sort of response do we expect from the woeful Coyotes after the debacle in Colorado? Antti Raanta was a human highlight reel, but the Yotes can’t expect their goalkeepers to save the day each and every time (can they?). Let’s hope that the coaching staff can put together a game plan that accentuates the Coyotes’ strengths and limits their weaknesses.

There are bright spots on the current Coyotes’ roster, and maybe it’s time to try some different line combinations to see who responds to the challenges. The status quo obviously isn’t working, so what does the team have to lose, games? They are already doing that! Let’s go Coyotes!