Red Wings hope to have success against transitioning Coyotes
Detroit Red Wings at Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have a new coach, a new system, a roster filled with new players, a newly developing rivalry -- and, if their first three games are any indication, the same old problems.
Issues the Red Wings want to take advantage of Thursday night at Gila River Arena, where Detroit looks to regain its early season momentum and slow-starting Arizona seeks its first victory of the still-young season.
Inconsistent goaltending, a lack of go-to scorers and uneven play along the blue line all were issues last season as the Coyotes went 30-42-10. So far, a coaching change from Dave Tippett to Rick Tocchet and a roster overhaul that brought in proven players such as center Derek Stepan and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to add to a mostly young cast hasn't fixed that.
A meltdown 5-4 loss to Anaheim in which the Coyotes led 4-1 and back-to-back defeats to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights are forcing Tocchet, never known for tolerating poor execution as a player, to develop patience in his first NHL head-coaching job.
The Coyotes (0-2-1) fell behind Vegas 4-0 in the first period of the Golden Knights' first home game Tuesday and never caught up, losing 5-2 in a performance that disappointed Tocchet because of the team's lack of competitiveness.
"We need some guys to come up here, go into the corner and win battles," Tocchet said Wednesday. "That's something we have to get better at, for sure."
That and scoring goals -- and stopping goals. No. 1 goaltender Antti Raanta was pulled after giving up three goals on the first five shots he faced. And, through three games in which the Coyotes have gained only one point in the standings, no player other than center Tobias Rieder (two goals) has more than one goal. No skater has a positive plus-minus rating.
"I don't know if we're in shape, and I have to take full responsibility for that," Tocchet said. "We're going to have to get back to the grindstone here. That's the one thing that disappoints me ... from five or six guys (Tuesday), the effort wasn't there. And it's hard to play in the NHL."
The Red Wings (2-1-0), coming off the first season in 27 years in which they didn't make the playoffs, got off to a 2-0 start under coach Jeff Blashill, only to lose 4-2 in Dallas on Tuesday in the second contest of a four-game road trip.
"We need to be sharper from the start," right winger Anthony Mantha said. "That's the lesson for today. I hope we're going to play three great periods in Arizona."
The Red Wings play a back-to-back in the desert, traveling to Las Vegas on Friday night.
"I didn't think we had enough guys (in Dallas) playing at that ultra, ultra competitive level," said Blashill, sounding much like Tocchet. "Our competitive level can't be fine, it's got to be outstanding. We didn't have enough guys skate well enough, and we didn't have enough pressure on them."
Mantha and right winger Martin Frk each have two goals through three games, while longtime defenseman Mike Green already has six assists. Goaltender Jimmy Howard won his first two starts, allowing only three goals, and is expected to start at Arizona.
Raanta (0-1-1, 4.29 goals-against average) likely will be back in net for Arizona after playing only 6 minutes, 15 seconds against Vegas on Tuesday.
Arizona will have a new face on the ice Thursday in right wing Emerson Etem, who has played in 173 NHL games but only three since 2015-16. A knee injury forced him to miss nearly all of last season with Anaheim. Etem, who has 22 career goals, replaces left wing Brendan Perlini, who sustained an upper-body injury in Vegas.
"It's good to be back and fully healthy," said Etem, who began the season with Arizona's Tucson farm club. "You miss a lot when something like that happens and you're out for so long."
Updated October 11, 2017