The Arizona Coyotes will kick off their season on Thursday evening by traveling to Nationwide Arena and challenging the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Arizona Coyotes finished fifth in the West Division last season with 54 points (24-26-6) while the Columbus Blue Jackets were last in the Central Division with 48 points (18-26-12).
It will be interesting as these two teams did not face off against one another due to division realignment to help the Canadian teams. Let’s take a deeper dive into these franchises to determine where we should be placing our wagers.
New Season, New TeamThe Arizona Coyotes struggled last season and one of the bright spots is the play of right-winger Phil Kessel. He was practicing on the ice on Wednesday but head coach Andre Tourigny would not commit to saying Kessel will play. Kessel led the team in points and goals as he has 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) last season and should be able to control the offense this season as well as a veteran presence. Kessel has shown the ability to be one of the better players and it’ll be time to see if the Coyotes can figure out a way to take on one of the weaker defenses in the league.
The Coyotes are dealing with a new player inside of the net this season with veteran goalie Carter Hutton starting here. He played in 12 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres and went 1-10-1 and allowed 3.47 goals per game. They were a good team against opposing power plays as they killed 135-of-167 (80.84 percent) of them last year. The Blue Jackets are a below-average offense so this will be a chance for the Coyotes to get back on track against a decent squad.
Bjorkstand Needs to Step UpColumbus did decently well last season and their best player has been right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand. The Blue Jackets have zero players currently listed on their injury report so they are ready to put their best foot forward. He finished last season leading the team in points, goals, and assists as he has 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 2020. Bjorkstrand has shown the ability to dominate a game but this should be a challenge against this Dallas defense.
So... how did we get here?— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 13, 2021
Find out at 7PM ⬇️
The Blue Jackets are expected to have Elvis Merzlikins be the starting goalie for the franchise to begin the regular season and he finished last season going 8-12-5 with 2.77 goals per game. Columbus, as a team, gave up 187 goals, which was 25th in the league. They have been below-average guarding against the power play this season as they have allowed 28 goals on 133 opportunities (78.95 kill percentage). The Blue Jackets need to figure out a way for their goalies to take the next step this season as their offense is finding a way to step up and take control.
- Arizona: 3-7 in their last 10 road games
- Arizona: 21-44 in their last 65 games playing on 3+ days rest