The 5 game eastern swing continues tonight and it won't be any easier as the Phoenix Coyotes take on the Southeast Division leading Tampa Bay Lighting. The two teams have already met once this year as the Bolts took down the Coyotes 3-0 in Glendale back in October. The Coyotes are just a little bit of a different team since then though as evidenced by their eight game win streak. Credit the guys for scoring goals, but Ilya Bryzgalov is the big reason for it yet again. Just look at last night for evidence as to why. Bryzgalov absolutely robbed the Flyers more times than they put on the highlight real. At least twice there were pucks behind him that he somehow kept out of the net. No word on if he'll start this second half of the back to back yet. Usually I'd say put Jason LaBarbera in and give Bryz a rest but with how on fire Bryz has been? It's a toss up.
The Lightning are putting together a pretty good season of their own, though in a much different way. They've had decent goaltending throughout the season, but decent is all I'd be willing to call it. Mike Smith is now in the AHL, Dan Ellis has all his problems and the Lightning now start Dwayne Roloson who they picked up off the waiver wire. Roloson hasn't been bad but his stats have actually been worse in his starts for the Lightning than they were for the Islanders. Not by a lot, but still. Combined he has a season Sv % of .905 and a 2.74 GAA. Where the Lightning do well is with their offence. And with a lineup that has Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in it why wouldn't you? Stamkos especially is dangerous with 40 goals and 35 assists this year. If the Coyotes can shutdown the top line defensively though the scoring options thin out quickly for them.
One other important note. Shane Doan will set the record for games played for the Jets/Coyotes Franchise with his start tonight. 1,099 games is a lot to play in the NHL much less for one team. FFH will have more on this accomplishment tomorrow, but would like to say one big thank you to Captain Coyote for all that he's done for the team and the community.
Starting Goalies: (Non-Confirmed)
|2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov||49||2898||27||14||123||2.55||1517||1394||.919||5|
|2010 - Dwayne Roloson||36||2106||15||19||96||2.74||1082||986||.911||4|
Having scored goals in the last three games (and points in the last 5) after an extended scoring drought the Captain is heating up just in time for the playoff run and for another milestone game. You know what would finally be perfect for the Captain? Something else involving goal scoring and the number three.
Can't ignore a 40 goal scorer here. He's the guy this Tampa Bay team is built around. 40-35-75 is impressive and there are still 20 games or so left to play in the Lightning's season.