The Phoenix Coyotes begin a four game roadtrip through the Southeast Division tonight at RBC Center against the Carolina Hurricanes. While Carolina is toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference ladder in terms of the standings, there's still some hope that the team could make it in to the playoffs if they can find a way to keep putting together the wins. While they may be 8 points out of 8th win 15 games to go, the Canes have gone 8-1-1 over their last 10 after a terrible beginning to the season. Is it enough to get them into the playoffs? It could be in a weak east. That makes them one hungry team that's fueled by a lot of desperation at the moment.
That's not a good thing for the Coyotes who have not done well against the Canes in the past couple of seasons. we always seem to run into them when they get hot and get blasted. Hopefully that's a little different tonight as for the first time in... ever? the Coyotes are riding on their success heading into the final 15 games of the year. While the Hurricanes are fighting just to get in, the Coyotes at this point are battling to try and get home-ice in the first round. We keep going back and forth with the Kings Who we're no tied with both in points and have an identical record as. Both teams will figure to be hungry tonight.
One other note: The Coyotes recalled Viktor Tikhonov from the KHL as the season was done over in Russia. He's with the team, but there's no indication that he'll play tonight, or when he might see some playing time. We've got a lot of extra players now so the competition for ice time will be huge.
|2009 - Ilya Bryzgalov||58||3403||35||18||131||2.31||1639||1508||.920||7|
Bryz will get the first start of the 4 game trip tonight and against a hot Canes team it's probably the smart move. Bryzgalov is tied for the league lead in shutouts with 7 and if he can collect another he'll tied Nikolai Khabibulin for the team record.
|2009 - Justin Peters||5||298||4||1||10||2.01||162||152||.938||0|
I know nearly nothing about the Hurricanes' rookie goaltender, but he's done well so far if you look at the stats. He'll get his second consecutive start and the Coyotes will have nearly no intel on him. We need to pepper him with shots quickly to try and get a read on him.
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Lee Stempniak has been huge for this team since picking him up from the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his 3 games he's gotten 3 goals and an assist along with a goal in the game deciding shootout against Vancouver on Wednesday. I doubt he'll keep the pace up forever, but why not drag it out for as long as we can?
Pitkanen has been big from the Hurricanes' blue line this year with 5 goals and 35 assists. He's trying to put together a points streak and we'll need to watch his playmaking while he's on the ice.