The Arizona Coyotes return home after a nice little stint on the road. They are on a three-game winning streak, with a 3-1 record on their four-game road trip. That’s not exactly what anyone projected when the Coyotes set off for the road. They only had 2 wins on their resume to that point, so it wasn’t the most ballsy prediction to say they’d continue to struggle. The highlight of their road trip came against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the finale.
They took down the Leafs by a score of 4-1, as they were on the fortunate side of a goaltender interference call. Auston Matthews scored yet another highlight-reel goal, but it was called back due to Antti Raanta getting stabbed with a stick in front of the net. Raanta had time to readjust on the play and get in position, so it didn’t go without controversy. The Yotes come home and hope they found some confidence to bring with them to Arizona.
The three wins brought the Coyotes record to 5-15-2 on the year. In other words, there is a lot of work left for them to do. Besides the Maple Leafs, the Yotes also downed the Senators and Canadiens, not a bad trio of teams up in Canada. Their one loss on the road trip came against the Winnipeg Jets. The Coyotes aren’t suddenly going to turn into a playoff contender, but it’s a nice sign for them. They’ve had difficulties finding their footing in the post-Shane Doan era.
The Coyotes are a youthful bunch. They made no qualms about not renewing Doan’s contract. Out with the old, in with the new. The Yotes hope that Tobias Rieder and Brendan Pelini will be fixtures on their first-line for years to come. Arizona has been waiting for a breakout season from Rieder, and he should improve on his career goal total of 16 goals, which came a year ago. He’s up to 5 goals and 3 assists. Needless to say, the Coyotes do not have much firepower up front. At this point, they just hope to see improvements from week-to-week, picking up small victories along the way. The Sharks head into Wednesday night on a three-game losing streak. Get our free Sharks vs. Coyotes pick below.
San Jose Sharks vs. Arizona Coyotes Pick
The Sharks enter with a record of 10-8-1. Their ability to score the puck has been severely lacking this year. It’s been difficult on them to light the red light, as they’re scoring just 2.42 goals per game this season. They’ve always been a team that depends on their physical play and defence, but at some point the offence is going to have to help out. The Sharks are allowing only 2.26 goals per game, which goes for 1st in the league. They still have that edge in the defensive zone that they’ve been able to capture over the years with size and strength. Martin Jones is blossoming with a 2.11 GAA in net. In November he’s been at this best, with a 1.90 GAA in six contests. The Sharks are still on a three-game slide, despite getting superior work out of Jones and the defence.
Jones owns a blistering hot 1.44 GAA and 2 shutouts against the Coyotes in nine starts. The Sharks played three in a row at home before hitting the road, it didn’t seem to help them at home, as they lost all three. However, a change of scenery may be what they need. For the Yotes, they’ve won just 1 game at home this season. They are allowing a league high 3.70 goals per game.
This could be a nice opportunity for the Sharks to come through on offence. The idea of the Coyotes getting overconfident and comfortable after winning three in a row is certainly possible. I don’t see how coming home to play a physical San Jose team is going to help them any. They have to still be high off their win against the Maple Leafs, only to come home to play a hungry San Jose team who should be focused to avoid four straight losses. A loss to the 5-15-2 Coyotes would begin to make heads roll in upper management. Expect the three-game skids to get snapped tonight in the desert.
PICK: SHARKS (-135)