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Analysis: Why bottom-dwelling Coyotes could mean trouble for Penguins | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

Analysis: Why bottom-dwelling Coyotes could mean trouble for Penguins

Tim Benz
| Wednesday, January 16, 2019 8:21 a.m

The Penguins next play in Arizona on Friday night. And the Coyotes stink.

That’s bad news for the Penguins.

Wait. Huh?

Well, as the Trib’s Jonathan Bombulie pointed out this week, “The Penguins have played seven games this season against the four teams currently occupying last place in the league’s four divisions – Los Angeles, Chicago, Ottawa and Philadelphia. They’re 1-5-1 in those games, with the only win coming in overtime over Los Angeles at home last month.”

The worse an opponent is, the worse the Penguins tend to play.

That trend includes a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings over the weekend. They are the only team with fewer points (40) than the Coyotes in the Pacific Division (43).

So the Penguins must be in big trouble Friday.

Oh, and it gets worse. Because the Coyotes only get worse when you look at the numbers a little deeper.

The Kings and Ducks are the only teams in the NHL with a worse goals-per-game average than Arizona (2.53). And the ‘Yotes are tied with Chicago and Florida for the lowest total of home wins (8).

They Coyotes can only boast one player, Clayton Keller, with more than 25 points. By comparison, the Penguins have six.

Brad Richardson (11) and Christian Fischer (10) are the only members of the team to hit at least 10 goals. The Penguins have seven.

Aside from the Penguins being bad against bad teams, Rick Tocchet’s club has something else going for it in this matchup against the Pens. The Coyotes are second in the NHL in short-handed goals scored with 11. And the Penguins lead the NHL in short-handed goals allowed with 10.

As a result, this game may not be as easy as it seems on paper. Maybe sitting around for two days, stewing on that 5-2 loss in San Jose will sharpen Mike Sullivan’s crew for this one. As of now his skaters have gotten just two of a possible six points on the western road trip, with two more games to go.

Also, the Penguins have dropped into a tie with the Islanders for the last locked Metro Division playoff slot with 56 points. That total is only four points clear of falling out of the final Wild Card spot too.

After winning eight in a row, the Penguins have dropped three games in five tries. Friday would be a good time to turn into a good team against bad competition.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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