Winnipeg Jets (0-0-0) at Arizona Coyotes (0-0-0)
|Date & Time||Thursday October 9, 2014, 10:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Arizona Coyotes -140 / Winnipeg Jets +127 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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Another year of hockey starts for the newly named Arizona Coyotes but defense and goaltending will still be the strengths of this club. Mike Smith is back between the pipes for the Coyotes and they'll look for him to duplicate his second half numbers last season when he brought them close to a playoff berth. Smith has proven to be a very good goaltender and he's probably going to have to put up a Vezina type season for this team to make the post season. On defense the club returns stud young defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle who both will be relied upon to carry this club offensively from the back end. The Coyotes are a team that is more than the sum of their parts when it comes to defending thanks to the emphasis placed on it by head coach Dave Tippett. How this team performs on the offensive side of the puck is going to be the key to how far they can go. Sam Gagner is now in the mix with the forward group but other than that there really was not much change. Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, Martin Erat, Lauri Korpikoski, and David Moss will need to find ways to put the puck in the net more consistently. Arizona will have a chance to get their season off to a good start against a Winnipeg Jets team that is sure to have some struggles of their own.
If you're a Jets fan and T.J. Galiardi and Mathieu Perreault don't excite you, then you will probably be in for a long season. Winnipeg didn't add much to their roster in the offseason and for a club that contended for a playoff spot for a while before falling out the mix that just isn't good enough. How Ondrej Pavelec is still starting in goal for Winnipeg is absolutely beyond me. It's one thing for another club that has goaltending issues to give a guy like Pavelec a chance with a change of scenery but the Jets have witnessed just how awful he is and continue to employ him. Pavelec has not done much to show that he can be a starting goalie on a winning team in this league but the Jets are going to need him to figure it out if they have any chance of being comptitive. This will be a tough start to the season for the Jets who now have Paul Maurice leading the way. Maurice should help but he really is fighting an uphill battle with a team that has no goaltending and an abysml power play.
The Coyotes will have their struggles this season but they get a favorable match up to start the season. Smith gives them an edge in goal here and despite the number Arizona should be the play.