The Arizona Coyotes avoided dubious history by winning their first game of the season Saturday against the Seattle Kraken to improve to 1-10-1 on the season. Arizona’s 11-game losing streak tied not only the franchise record for the worst start but also tied the 1943-44 New York Rangers’ record for most losses to begin a season.
Their opponent on Wednesday is the first-place Minnesota Wild (8-3-0), against whom the Coyotes went 1-7-0 last season. No team had a better GAA (4.00) against Arizona than the Wild in 2021. But this is a new season.
Can Arizona string back-to-back wins together, or will the Wild play heartbreaker once again?
Wednesday’s puck drop is at 10:00 PM Eastern.
Minnesota Wild Preview
The Wild enters this game on a three-game winning streak, needing to come from behind in each of those three games. In games decided by one goal, the Wild is 7-0-0, and they’re tied for the league lead with three overtime wins.
If there’s an area where the Wild is vulnerable, it’s on the penalty kill. Minnesota’s PK unit is operating at a 75.6% rate, 23rd in the league. While Arizona’s 10.7% power play is nothing to write home about at 28th in the league, a chance against a team struggling while shorthanded so far could jumpstart the Coyotes’ offense.
In particular, Minnesota will lean on the duo of Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov to generate offense. Fiala only has one goal on 33 shots, but he’s had some brutal puck luck. With a team-high 4.05 iXG on the season (26th in the league, everyone ahead of him has at least two goals), it’s only a matter of time before Fiala breaks through. Kaprizov led the Wild in points last season (27 goals, 24 assists), and he’s tied for the team lead this season (two goals, seven assists).
Kaapo Kahkonen is the expected starter for Minnesota on Wednesday, leaving Cam Talbot to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday. Kahkonen has a 1-1-0 record this season, along with a 3.63 GAA and an .860 save percentage this season.
Jordan Greenway was on the injury report with a lower-body injury, but he skated with the team on Tuesday. His status is questionable. Matthew Boldy is at least a week away from making his season debut after fracturing his ankle in training camp.
Arizona Coyotes Preview
Arizona got goals from four different players in Sunday’s win, led by a pair of goals from Lawson Crouse. Antoine Roussel, Travis Boyd, and Phil Kessel also got in on the scoring action.
“It was an emotional three weeks,” Crouse said. “But at the same time, we gotta continue to build off of it. But I’m not going to lie, and it feels really good.”
Crouse leads all Coyotes skaters with four goals.
Karel Vejmelka was lifted from the Kraken game after allowing two goals on his first two shots. Scott Wedgewood took over between the pipes and held on for the win.
Vejmelka is expected back in net on Wednesday. This season, he has an 0-7-1 record, a 2.84 GAA, and a .913 save percentage.
Nick Schmaltz is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury. Ryan Dzingel may miss the next week because of an upper-body injury, and Carter Hutton will be out until mid-November with a lower-body injury.
Odds and Pick
- Moneyline: Minnesota Wild (-205) at Arizona Coyotes (+165)
- Puck Line: Minnesota Wild -1.5 goals (+135) at Arizona Coyotes +1.5 goals (-155)
- Game Total: OVER 5.5 goals (-115), UNDER 5.5 goals (-105)
Betting Pick: Minnesota Wild Puck Line (-1.5 goals at +135)
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