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Coyotes at Blues preview: Clayton Keller’s absence is a blow for the Yotes

The Arizona offense is significantly shorthanded.

NHL: NOV 16 Coyotes at Blues

Clayton Keller, the Coyotes’ best player by a country mile, was enjoying a stretch of outstanding play, and then this happened:

Keller’s had surgery to repair his femur and will be out between six to eight months, That means that Arizona will be out their best player not just for the rest of this season, but for training camp and the start of next season.

Keller leads the Coyotes with 28 goals and 63 points. They have other forwards who can score reliably - Nick Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse are quietly having themselves a season, and Phil Kessel is leading the team with 36 assists.

If there were a team that the Blues’ with their propensity to play down to the opposition should be worried about, it’s Arizona. They’re 22-42-5, dead last in the Central with a 12-19-4 road record. Win number 12 game last night in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues are back from a Western Canada roadtrip that saw them get five of six possible points in probably the messiest possible way. Closing it with another defense optional (for both teams) win against the Calgary Flames to the tune of 6-4, the Blues should be able to pepper goaltender Karel Vejmelka with some shots.

The Blues are going to have to do more than that, though. They need clear-headed, gaffe-free goaltending, which is not something that they received much of the last few nights. They also need, especially with the continued absence of Torey Krug, consistent defense. Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko have been paired together as of late, and “less than ideal” is a very polite way of describing that pairing. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments Craig Berube will be making to the pairings tonight - and if they’ll do any good.

The Blues played three games over four nights on a grueling road trip. They’ve had one night off before the start of tonight’s game, and the rest of April is a hectic schedule. The Blues would have an excuse if they were tired down the stretch, but if they want to lock in a playoff position in the crowded Western Conference picture, they’re going to have to take care of teams like Arizona when they get the opportunity to do so.