Following a solid outing on Thursday against the Red Wings, your Phoenix Coyotes return to Jobing.com arena to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Coyotes managed to get back to a point per game pace with the win which, isn't quite good enough, but better than a losing record I suppose. The Coyotes offense really shined early in the game scoring 3 early goals to put the Red Wings in catch up mode. The defense did enough to keep the Wings to 2 goals, but will have to do better in controlling the shots than they did on Thursday giving up 45 total shots.
The Lightning come in to tonight's game with a 6-2-1 record leading the Southeast Division with 13 points. The main weapon they have is the league's leader in points so far in Steven Stamkos who has 8-10-18 in only nine games so far this year. Sure a 2 point per game pace isn't likely to keep up, but he's certainly going to be dangerous. The Bolts last played on Wednesday against the Penguins in Tampa. Down 3-1 just after the midway point of the 1st period the Lightning powered back to a 5-3 win. Martin St. Louis scored twice and Vincent Lecavalier added another. The Lightning have some secondary scoring, but the big names are the ones to watch.
Five for Winning
Puck Possession: One thing people have noticed early is that pretty much every game the Coyotes play in turns into a shooting gallery. 45 shots against Ilya Bryzgalov isn't going to work too often. Part of the problem is that 5 on 5 the Coyotes can't find the balance between passing to get a quality shot and taking a quick one. We don't want to see the Coyotes Power Play all the time that passes forever to find a perfect shot, but at the same time you don't want to see them just shoot when the goalie has position on them already. They have to find that area in the middle so that they sustain in zone pressure rather than turning it back over to the opposition.
Jump out early: We saw what happens when the Coyotes can actually play with a lead instead of chasing the game on Thursday. Last year the team was lights out when scoring first. This year has been a mixed bag, but consistently working to get the early goal can't hurt the team's confidence.
Don't get in a scoring race: Tampa is not a team we want to be trying to go goal for goal against. They lead the league in goals per game with an average of 3.56. With guys like the aforementioned Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis, they're always a danger to score. Solid defense is a must tonight.
Keep up the Circle play: The Coyotes are currently 4th in the league in face off percentage at 54%. All of the regular centers are above 50% so it's not one guy dominating, but rather the team as a whole consistently doing better at the dot. The team needs to turn that advantage into a few more goals and better overall possession.
Keep the penalty minutes down: Surprisingly the Coyotes have one of the lowest penalty minutes per game numbers in the league. Averaging 11.1 minutes a game tying for 3rd best in the league. Unfortunately most of those are minor penalties rather than some of the fighting majors teams have collected through fights and inflating their numbers. The Coyotes actually get 4.77 minor penalties a game which while not bad, has been made worse by a so-so PK unit thus far. Minimizing penalties in order to keep the talanted Lighting forwards at 5 on 5 will be key.
Ed Jovanovski has not looked all that impressive as of late. We need him to play the intense game that he's capable of instead of the lazy games we've seen over the last couple. He has to be better about clearing rebounds and being responsible on the puck.
Yeah, I've already been talking about the kid, but he's leading the league in points. He's important. Sue me.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
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