ST. LOUIS MO - JANUARY 10: Lee Stempniak #22 of the Phoenix Coyotes scores a goal against Jaroslav Halak #41 of the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on January 10 2011 in St. Louis Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Having not lost a game in regulation in the last 5 games, the Coyotes are slowly chipping their way up the Western Conference standings. Sure, those two overtime losses would be better as straight wins, but 8 points of a possible 10 isn't a bad mark to set. The Coyotes have gotten on this streak by both getting back to playing the defense that made them so successful last year as well as suddenly finding some scoring touch. The snake bitten Lee Stempniak found the back of the net in a big way against the Blues last night as he scored on a breakaway and burn Jaroslav Halak. Scottie Upshall has found himself, Kyle Turris is producing as well as captain Shane Doan.
The opposite side of things has Columbus in a freefall. They've lost thier last 4 games and have slipped to 13th in the conference. The question is can they do anything about it at the moment. While they seem to have some good pieces on the roster they just haven't gotten much production outside of their top line. In goal they've been okay, but the defense hasn't been able to support them. Steve Mason will get the nod tonight, but hasn't been the same goalie he was back in the day as a rookie. With a .899 save percentage and a 3.26 GAA it's just not the performance the Blue Jackets are going to need out of him if they want to make a run to the playoffs especially in the West. Mason will have to be on his best tonight as while he's historically done well in general he's never beaten the Coyotes.
The two teams met just last week in Phoenix and the Coyotes took that one with a third period goal by Shane Doan shutting the door on the Blue Jackets. the game was a close one up to that point and things had gotten a little chippy and it was a game where the Coyotes clearly started getting back to using their physical play to grind out the other team. Expect tonight to be a similar style especially with guys like Jared Boll in the lineup and with Paul Bissonnette likely in because of the Wolski trade.
- Ilya Bryzgalov should be in goal for the Coyotes tonight after missing a couple with flu-like symptoms that were enough to keep him out, but not enough to call up Climie from San Antonio. Hopefully that means he just needed to rest back up from it.
- Michal Rozsival will not start tonight and will meet the team in Phoenix on Wednesday
- The Coyotes have held the Jackets to 2 goals or less in each of the last 11 meetings.(h/t to phoenixcoyotes.com)
- With a win tonight the Coyotes would jump up to fourth in the Western Conference from their current spot at seventh. Just another example of how close everything is in the West.
Finally breaking his cold streak last night, hopefully all the work he's been putting in and the scoring chances he's created start going in now.
I dislike Rick Nash. He always seems to breakout a nifty move or two against us. Luckily the Coyotes seem to get better of his team in the end.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Columbus Blue Jackets Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
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