The sports mantra of ‘rusty or rested’ is going to get a workout as the NHL returns to play following a pause to let teams work through COVID protocols running through their locker room. The Coyotes haven’t played since a December 17th OT win in Anaheim, while the Sharks will be on the ice for the first time since falling 5-2 at home to Vancouver on December 16th.
Arizona could use a little downtime to reset, as their 17 points through 29 games are the fewest in the NHL. San Jose is trying to stay afloat in the Pacific at 15-14-1, but that’s only been good enough for sixth place and 9 points back from Vegas. A win for either team on Tuesday would be a nice momentum builder after the break.
Rough Task for Arizona
The Coyotes weren’t given a chance to build momentum off a rare win as they were put on a week-plus pause after their 6-5 thrilling OT defeat of the Ducks last Friday. That was a huge win as Anaheim is having a rebound season (40 points, tied for 1st in Pacific), and Arizona picked up the victory as +262 underdogs.
Now for the bad news, the Coyotes had lost six straight games prior to that win. They had been held to two goals or less in five of those defeats, which isn’t surprising for the league’s worst scoring offense at just 1.9 goals/game. The Sharks don’t exactly light the lamp frequently themselves, though (2.6 gpg, 27th), which gives Arizona some hope here.
San Jose Being Home Helps
It’s going to be hard enough firing things back up after an unexpected pause and one that came over the holidays. It’s got to be even tougher doing it on the road, which should give San Jose at least a little bit of an advantage even though they are just 7-7-1 at SAP Arena this season.
The Sharks actually haven’t had to travel since December 5th, as they had played five straight at home prior to the COVID pause. They were just 2-3 over that span, though, and, much like Arizona, the offense was sputtering, being held to two goals or less in their last four outings.
Arizona at San Jose Pick
All of the NHL’s return to ice games are going to be tough to handicap because it’s difficult to know how each squad handled the unexpected break. This is an especially tough contest to break down as both teams are lower-tier squads. By default, it would be a play against Arizona, the team with the fewest points in the NHL and who ranks 32nd in goals/game (1.9) but also in goals allowed (3.7).
The Sharks don’t do a lot to impress either, though. They do have the advantage of being at home, but that didn’t work prior to the break, losing 3-1 to Seattle and 5-2 to Vancouver – both games in which San Jose was favored. That doesn’t exude a ton of confidence in having to lay a -208 price tag on the Sharks. At the same time, +175 isn’t nearly the return on investment that it should be for taking Arizona to win.
Ultimately while neither team plays great defense (San Jose is the better of the two), a couple of bad offenses are meeting up on Tuesday night. The only real value in this matchup is on a total play (5.5), and it should stay relatively low scoring.