Phoenix Coyotes at Dallas Stars - Game 56 Preview

With two consecutive shutouts and a return to playing the way that won them games last year, the Phoenix Coyotes travel to Dallas to face a Stars team that is reeling at the moment from injuries and have dropped 5 of their last 6 games. Not only that but the Coyotes could tie the Stars, at least in terms of points, for the Pacific Division lead with a win tonight. There's a lot of momentum to be gained with a win and the Coyotes could really use it as almost everyone in the division has games in hand on them at this point. The more room they can put between them the better. 

The Coyotes could be bolstered by two of their better defensive players being back in the lineup tonight as Vernon Fiddler and Ed Jovanovski are gametime decisions. It sounds like Fiddler is more likely than Jovo at this point, but either way having them out has been a downer in general. Ilya Bryzgalov has been perfect in the last two games recording shutouts in both games. It was the first back-to-back shutout performance for a Coyotes goaltender since Brian Boucher did it as part of his record setting shutout streak. Bryz hasn't done it alone though as defensively the Coyotes have absolutely locked down the opposition. Even guys like Michal Rozsival have stepped up and saved goals for the team. Last game he dove to block a shot that Bryzgalov was way out of position for saving the shutout for the team. The forwards are contributing more on the forecheck and the whole squad is more focused on shutting down the other side. 

The Stars, as I mentioned have lost 5 of 6 and are in a bit of a tailspin after a very strong, and somewhat surprising, start to the season. They're still a good team, but are definitely in a funk as players have gone down to injury. The latest is James Neal who is the Stars 3rd leading goal scorer with 20 on the season. As the guys at Defending Big D say, they're struggling to find goal scoring at all lately and losing Neal certainly doesn't help. Kari Lehtonen will start for the Stars and while he hasn't been awful, he's also given up 10 goals in his last 3 appearances (2 starts and one in relief). In his two starts against  Phoenix this season he's been 1-1 with a 2.04 GAA and .925 sv%.

Key Players


Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Jun 13, 1981


He's finally started getting back on the scoresheet with 2 goals last game against the Avalanche. If he can continue to score goals that would be huge for the team going down the stretch. 

Steve Ott

#29 / Center / Dallas Stars

6-0

194

Aug 19, 1982


He'll likely be one of the subs into that top line spot the Neal injury opens up. That could be good for Dallas in picking up the Physical game, or it could hurt them if Ott tries to play differently on that top line. 

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ed Jovanovski other-excused 02/08/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Vernon Fiddler other-excused 01/16/2011
David Schlemko head 01/18/2011


Dallas Stars Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Raymond Sawada shoulder 02/09/2011

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date
James Neal other-excused 02/09/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jamie Benn shoulder 01/25/2011
Toby Petersen other-excused 01/05/2011
Adam Burish other-excused 02/04/2011
Tom Wandell shoulder 01/25/2011

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