Good afternoon, Phoenix Coyotes fans. This week we are joined in the Roundtable by Jim Gintonio, the Coyotes beat writer for the Arizona Republic. In addition to his game write ups and articles, you can read Jim's Ice Chips blog on AZCentral and follow him on Twitter. This week's topics include the road power play woes, defensive pairings, and what it will take for the Dogs to win their division.
Why do you believe the Coyotes have played much better on the power play at home versus on the road?
Jim: Home power play factors: familiar with home ice, boards, glass, etc. The crowd push, momentum.
Travis: It's not as though either is spectacular, but I think the biggest part is simply familiarity with the arena and the bounces or lack thereof the boards and ice provide at times. There really isn't any other way to explain why the trend is so slanted.
Carl: I can't find a simple explanation for it. The power play looked its worst in 3 games (combined 0-18), two of which were on the same road trip. The Penguins and Devils games in December and the Ottawa game in late October. The Ottawa game could be explained away easily. It was Doan's first game back from suspension, they were short handed at center with Hanzal being out, and Whitney's wrist was still bothering him. The other two games were on a road trip where the team looked completely listless at times, not just on the power play. I suspect the road power play will be more successful in the second half if guys stay healthy.
What should the Coyotes defensive pairings look like once all 8 defensemen are healthy?
Travis: Summers will head back to San Antonio, and Schlemko probably won't see much more ice time now that Roszival is playing. So I'd do something like this:
Yandle - Morris; Jovo - Rozsival; Aucoin - Ekman-Larsson (Lepisto as the number 7 guy)
Carl: What I think they should look like and what Coach Tippet thinks they should look like are probably somewhat different.
Yandle - Aucoin; Jovo - Rozsival; Ekman-Larsson - Morris (Lepisto, Schlemko)
With 33 games remaining, 10 of those in the division, (as of Sunday) what will it take for the Coyotes to win their first Pacific Division title?
Jim: 98 points is my guess, but as close as it is, and if two teams get on a roll, might be 100. Very tight down to the last day.
Travis: It going to take some help from the Dallas Stars to lose a couple and for the Coyotes to start playing above their competition. They have a nasty habit of playing down to teams when the opposition is on a slide. The redeeming part of the schedule though is that if the Coyotes can hang around long enough they have games against Dallas and a home and home against the San Jose Sharks to end the season. Those could be really important games in the Pacific race and ones that the Coyotes can basically control their own destiny in. They'll have to pick the pace back up after the all-star break like they did last season and really go on a tear to get that first banner though.
Carl: There is still plenty of hockey to be played, but I'll throw a dart at the board and say the Coyotes would need to play just above .750 the rest of the way which would be equivalent to 50 points in their last 33 games. They would then end up with 107 points, the same amount they ended last season with. The difference is this season the division is more competitive. Beating the Stars and Sharks in the majority of their remaining head to head matchups would obviously help as well.