The Carolina Hurricanes continue their run of games at home with a contest against a Western Conference foe, the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are finishing up a three-game road trip that has yet to produce a victory. PNC Arena has not been kind to the visitors this season with the Canes holding an impressive 14-5-4 record in Raleigh.
Away from 5,000 seat Mullet Arena, Arizona is just 8-12-3. The college-like arena has been an advantage for the Coyotes but the team has yet to regain its form on the road. Despite the failure on the road, the Coyotes are in the thick of the Western Conference wild-card race.
Andre Tourigny's group has been successful in keeping the puck out of their net with 144 goals against. Similarly, this is one more goal surrendered by the Canes in 47 games. The problem for Arizona has been scoring where the Canes have scored 160 goals, the Coyotes only have 142.
Just four points out of the last Wild Card, the Coyotes will be looking to grab a very important road point or two. On the other hand, the New York Rangers lost last night at home to Vegas, keeping them at 61 points. With 59 points and a game in hand, the Canes are in a position to share the lead for the Metro Division with a win. The Rangers also play Ottawa this evening so that will be a factor as well.
One of the lone scoring threats for the Coyotes is Clayton Keller. At just 25 years old, Keller is already in his 8th season with Arizona. He leads the team in scoring with 20 goals and 45 points. Lawson Crouse is the other main threat to score with 19 goals this season. Nick Schmaltz is a very nice player and one that was discussed for the Canes at last year's trade deadline. He currently has 29 points.
19-year-old Logan Cooley has shown some flashes of brilliance this year and is always a nice play away from creating a scoring chance for the Coyotes. He has 5 goals and 19 helpers.
The defense is thin as most of their salary is invested in the forward position. But Sean Durzi has had a strong season with 8 goals and 20 assists. The big off-season acquisition was Matt Dumba but he is currently injured. Scoring will most likely not be from the blue line this evening.
In goal, Connor Ingram is having a breakout season for Arizona. The 26-year-old has found himself with the organization and has 17 wins this season. His 2.59 GAA and .916 save percentage are the main reason this team is in contention for the playoffs.
Before this season, Karel Vejmelka was on the rise and appeared to be the future in the crease. He has struggled this year in 20 starts with a 3.47 GAA and less than stellar .896 save percentage. Still, he has a ton of skill and could be an option to play this evening.
The Coyotes are a fragile team right now and the Canes can knock them down early with consistent offensive zone pressure and a goal. Rod Brind'Amour will have the advantage of line changes to get out Jaccob Slavin for the Keller line, which should neutralize the offense for Arizona.
This could be a Spencer Martin night but Antti Raanta is a former Coyotes goalie so maybe Brind'Amour gives him the nod before Kochetkov gets back in the fold.