Two of the top special teams go head-to-head tonight when the Arizona Coyotes welcome the Colorado Avalanche to the desert. The Yotes have the top-ranked penalty kill and are almost more dangerous shorthanded than they are at even-strength. The Avs, on the other hand, have the top-ranked power play and it’s been on fire as of late going 8-for-11 in their last 4 games. That includes a missed power play opportunity against the Kings where they just rolled their lines instead of employing a power play unit since they were up by so much in the third period.
The Yotes are positively deadly on the PK where they’ve scored double the amount of goals they’ve given up, scoring 10 shorthanded goals while only giving up five powerplay markers. The Coyotes use an up-tempo kill taking away any time and space, forcing dump-ins and giveaways. Any time a player gets the puck with their back to the play, a Coyotes’ penalty-killer is all over them, not giving them a chance to get set up. This causes players to panic and the Yotes are always ready to take advantage of a giveaway and transition to offense.
The Avs have the league’s best power play right now scoring at just under 33% of the time. They’ve done it by committee, getting production from both their units. The Avs move the puck around really well, forcing the killers to back off, and then they have multiple options to go to, not just relying on one guy to get it done. Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Tyson Barrie are all one-timer options but they also have the capability of going down low to Gabriel Landeskog for a one-touch pass to Colin Wilson in the slot.
The Coyotes are sitting near the basement of the Western Conference but with a few games in hand, they could easily see their stock rise in the next few weeks. The Avalanche are holding on to the first wildcard position and with a win could move ahead of the Jets in the Central division. Plenty on the line for both teams tonight and one of the biggest keys to the game is going to be how the special teams battle plays out.
(Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)