The Arizona Coyotes sport the worst record in the Western Conference while receiving little help from the schedule makers, having played 30 games overall and 18 away from home — both league highs. The road doesn’t get any easier for Arizona, which continues a four-game trek against a huge nemesis with a visit to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
The Coyotes didn’t post a regulation victory until their 21st game but are showing improvement, earning points in seven of their last 10 games (5-3-2) after kicking off the road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss at Vegas. One of the early-season losses for Arizona was a 6-2 drubbing by Boston — the 11th consecutive defeat in the series for the Coyotes, who haven’t beaten the Bruins since October 2010. Boston has been on a roll, winning six of seven games before dropping a 5-3 decision at red-hot Nashville on Monday. Its domination against Arizona aside, Boston has a chance to make a move up the Atlantic Division standings, playing eight of its next 10 games at home.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE COYOTES (7-18-5): Coach Rick Tocchet credited goaltender Scott Wedgewood with earning a point in the loss at Vegas after he turned aside a career-high 42 shots in making his sixth consecutive start. Wedgewood has been forced to carry the load since an injury to starter netminder Antti Raanta, who was medically cleared to return and will accompany the team to Boston. Tocchet said Raanta would be evaluated to determine his availability for Thursday, but defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will miss his fourth game in a row.
ABOUT THE BRUINS (12-9-4): While forward Ryan Spooner (lower body) missed practice Wednesday, rookie Jake DeBrusk was on the ice and appears poised to return to the lineup after sitting out the past three games due to an upper-body injury. DeBrusk collected two goals and five points in four games prior to the injury and also tallied in Boston’s rout of Arizona in October. “You never want to get injured, and especially not when pucks are going in and you’re producing,” DeBrusk said. “When I get back I just want to try and do the same thing.”
1. Bruins F David Pastrnak has four goals in the past five games and is riding a six-game point streak.
2. Arizona has allowed only two power-play goals in the past 11 games.
3. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had a three-point performance versus Arizona in October but has four points in 21 games since.
PREDICTION: Bruins 4, Coyotes 2