Close games can make-or-break Arizona in a tight Western Conference

By Jesse Bonello

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Arizona Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the first period against the Winnipeg Jets. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes are coming off a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets last night where they found themselves in yet another one-goal game.

Eight of the Coyotes’ first 13 games have finished with a one-goal differential. They’ve gone 4-4-0 in those eight games with all four losses coming in regulation.

Just four points separate last place in the Western Conference, where the Coyotes currently sit, from the second wildcard spot. If the West standings continue to be this close throughout the season, the outcomes of one-goal games will be crucial for Arizona.

For a young team like Arizona, playing in a number of close games can definitely be beneficial.

Mike Smith is still out with a lower-body injury, but goaltender Louis Domingue has shown resilience. He faces a lot of high danger scoring opportunities that usually stem from defensive zone turnovers. The Yotes are definitely eager to get Smith back in the lineup, but Domingue has kept the Coyotes in most of their games since Smiths’ injury.

The Coyotes are looking to close the already tight gap between a wildcard spot on Saturday when they take on the Boston Bruins at home. Saturday nights’ game against the Bruins will be their first meeting of the season.

The Bruins are coming off of a 5-2 win against Columbus where they got off to a quick start. Four of their five goals came in the first period, and the Bruins have scored first in four of their last five wins. This could cause problems for the Coyotes since they have struggled in the first period lately. One of their worst first periods came against Anaheim on Nov. 4 where they found themselves down 3-0 and being outshot 21-4.

As of today, the Coyotes’ lineup doesn’t look any different.

Puck drop on Saturday will be 8 p.m. EST.

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