The Anaheim Ducks are two positions outside of the playoff picture with 79 points. In their last ten games, they have gone 5-4-1 and currently on a two-game win streak. With their last two victories they have outscored their opponents 11-4.
The Phoenix Coyotes currently share the eighth spot with four other teams all vying for position tied at 81 points. In their last time games, they have gone 4-4-2. Even though they blanked the Calgary Flames 3-0 Thursday night, the grind has been a tough one for the Desert Dogs losing many players to injury.
It's the best part of the season - the chase for the playoffs where every game matters more than the previous one. With this important divisional game this evening, there will be a minor sorting with the Ducks staying outside the playoff picture or having a share of the logjam that currently exists with the 8th and final playoff spot.
The Ducks bring to the table two very powerful lines. The top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Corey Perry has generated the most offense, but the second line featuring the Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne along with Saku Koivu and Brandon McMillan is potent as well.
Even though the forwards are dangerous, so is the blueline as they have their own Norris candidate Lubomir Visnovsky collecting 55 points (14G 41A) and carrying a plus-10 rating.
Finally, newly acquired goalie Dan Ellis has served as the back bone to this team with number one Jonas Hiller out for vertigo issues. With his presence he has earned them a more than respectable record of 5-1-1.
Even though the Coyotes have their work cut out for them, their performance against both the Canucks and the Flames should be encouraging. The emergence of young players holding their own such as Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Turris, and Brett MacLean continue to spark this team.
However, they need help from the other committee members if they want to get this job done and take advantage of any power play time that the opposition gives them.
The Ducks rank 20th in the NHL in the penalty kill which might be a by-product of the Ducks taking so many with their overly aggressive play. If the Coyotes can forget their own power play woes they might be able to take advantage of that tendency.
Plus, even though the Ducks have played spectacular hockey lately by winning games and putting together that 5-1-1 record, is not without some trepidation. Ellis has allowed the first goal six of the last seven games. When the Coyotes score first they have a solid 25-5-6 record but that only places them in the middle of the NHL at 14th.
Clearly a must win game for the Coyotes. What will the Coyotes need to do?
- They need to score first and pressure Ellis to play his best game.
- Staying out of the penalty box is a must with the Ducks' 4th ranked power play.
- If the Coyotes happen to get power play opportunities, they must take advantage of the Ducks 20th ranked penalty kill.
- Play more in Anaheim's zone and limit the number of shots that Bryzgalov sees.
- Attempt to contain the Ducks' top two lines.
|2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov||56||3328||29||17||143||2.58||1744||1601||.918||6|
|2010 - Dan Ellis||38||2110||18||8||98||2.79||925||827||.894||2|
|2010 - Keith Yandle||10||45||55||1||66|
|2010 - Lubomir Visnovsky||14||41||55||10||18|
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries