The Coyotes visit the land of many lakes tonight to face the Minnesota Wild after being shutout last night by the Nashvlle Predators. The Coyotes will look to find some sort of rhythm again after being the slump buster for two teams in the Preds and the Ducks that were on multi game losing streaks. The Wild aren't on one are they? Eh... They've dropped two straight just like we have, though overall they're 13th in the Conference. The biggest challenge will apparently be staying out of the penalty box as last night the Coyotes took 7 penalties to Nashville's 2 and for some reason kept taking them with a guy already in the box giving the Predators 2 consecutive 5 on 3 chances. Shooting your team in the foot like that isn't a way to win many games. The Predators proved that by scoring 2 goals on the power play and the third into the empty net. If not for the Coyotes complete lack of discipline that game has a different result.
The biggest story on the Wild's side of the ice would have to be the return of Pierre-Marc Bouchard to the lineup. Bouchard has missed more than a hundred games after a head injury in March of 2009. Bouchard isn't necessarily the cure to the Wild's scoring woes, but he can score 20 goals in a season and get a pile of assists. They could use the help though, especially if he can produce 5-on-5 as they Wild are 28th in the league in even strength scoring. That lack of scoring showed up in a big way in their last two losses. Saturday after leading Colorado 2-1 after the first the Wild imploded giving up 4 second period gaols before eventually losing 7-4. The Wild then followed that up by getting shutout by a struggling Calgary team 3-0 in Calgary on Monday.
Five for Winning
Discipline - Plain and simple. It's what lead directly to the Nashville loss and it's what cost the team games early in the season as well. Penalties will happen, but compounding it by giving the opposition repeated 5 on 3 chances, playing weak on the PK and just taking lazy penalties in the first place isn't what good teams do. Especially tonight against the Wild's 2nd ranked power play unit that converts chances at a 24.1% rate. That's a recipe for disaster if the Coyotes don't play responsibly.
Shake It Off - Both teams are looking to bounce back after similar consecutive losses. The Coyotes lead the Ducks on Saturday, only to lose 6-4 and then get shutout by Nashville 3-0. The Wild did the same in the aforementioned games in Colorado and Calgary. The team that's mentally tougher and has the ability of push themselves rather than keep looking back will come out with the W.
Backup Battle - Both backups will be in tonight as Jason LaBarbera gets the 2nd game of the back to back and Jose Theodore starts his second consecutive game after Niklas Backstrom got shelled in Colorado. This is the first time LaBarbera has faced the Wild ever and only his 4th start of the season. Theodore has been alright splitting his 6 starts going 3-3.
BizStachty vs Buttercup - It's always nice to see Paul Bissonnette chirping the opposition before he even gets to town. via Twitter he already threw out a "Cal Buttercup" reference and talked up that they're from the same town. Remember what happens when he talks about guys before the game?
Which Jovo? - None of us really got to see the game in Nashville, but from the sound of things Ed Jovanovski had a so-so game. That's somewhat troubling in that the way he plays seems to have a decently significant impact on the team. Early in the season he was playing kind of sloppy, the Jovo everyone hates, and the team looked the same way. As he picked it up the team in general did and while he wasn't necessarily dominating defensively, the offense was coming and those errors fans scream at the tv about were absent. The team needs that responsible Jovo because th 5-6 D men can't play a ton of minutes, or at least shouldn't, so the top 4 have got to do better.
He keeps racking up the assists with a team leading 13, but all of his goal scoring came in his hat trick performance against the Blues back on November 13th. The creative playmaking is his main weapon, but some tallies in the other points column would really help at the moment.
When the Wild signed him in the offseason they were hoping he'd be the player that was defensively responsible and could add some contributions offensively like he had in New Jersey. Instead he has 7 total points on the season (4g - 3a) and is a team worst -11.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
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