The Phoenix Coyotes continue their homestand by hosting the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night at Jobing.com arena. The Coyotes earned their first regulation loss in eight games against the Chicago Blackhawks and it is certain that the Coyotes would want to rectify that situation.
The St. Louis Blues by contrast have run 3-5-1 as they try to finish an injury plagued season that held promise for the proud franchise.
Who will prevail tonight? What will the Coyotes need to do to pick up these important two points?
After a terrific start to the season, the Blues have not found any consistency as they currently have a slightly better than .500 record in a very competitive Central Division. What's worse that they lose two of their key players to injury that all but ruined what slight chance they had to compete for the post season.
Defensemen Barret Jackman and forward Alex Steen went down with injury and they have lost three of their last four.
St. Louis has been decidedly average in special teams production as they rank 17th on the power play and 22nd on the penalty kill. They also carry a minus-7 as a team.
The Coyotes by contrast have just found ways to win, especially significant with Martin Hanzal and Ed Jovanovski out of the lineup. Even though the circumstances went against them against the Blackhawks Sunday night, they played a solid playoff-type game. The officials just made it difficult on the team to pick up the point at the end.
As the mantra has been for the last fifteen games or so, finding points is just crucial against the Blues to continue putting distance between them and the Dallas Stars who are currently in 9th place.
As with Chicago Sunday night, the Coyotes have the edge in this series match up picking up two games in this four game series. A third win would do nicely for the playoff drive.
Five for Winning
- Against a 22nd ranked penalty kill should enable the Coyotes to persevere on any power play opportunities they get. It is now a glaring concern that they can't get this thing running on the man advantage. As they found against the Blackhawks, every goal is crucial.
- Head coach Dave Tippett shortened the bench Sunday night because certain players couldn't keep up with the pace of the game. He chose to run three instead of four lines. Therefore, tonight would be a perfect night to see if Kyle Turris, Brett Maclean, and Andrew Ebbett get back on track.
- The Coyotes are fourth in the NHL in 3rd period goal differential picking up 80 goals. They clearly get stronger as a team as their production occurs more in the last two-thirds of the game than the first third. If they can score first, or wear down the Blues defense, they will be able to do the same tonight.
- Continue to play solid defense in front of Bryzgalov. He has faced more than 35 shots three out of his last five appearances. Just like earlier in the season, he is being peppered way too often with the galvanized rubber.
- Play the Blues as they were a playoff contender. They escaped disaster against the Edmonton Oilers squeaking out a win that they really didn't deserve. Tonight they need to control their own destiny.
|2010 - Jaroslav Halak||49||2812||22||19||124||2.65||1311||1187||.905||5|
|2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov||60||3567||32||18||151||2.54||1873||1722||.919||6|
|2010 - David Backes||26||28||54||22||91|
He is the only remaining player on the St. Louis Blues that has been any sort of threat scoring two goals and an assist. The other two players that have had a similar impact are Alex Steen, who is injured, and Brad Boyes who is now with the Buffalo Sabres.
|2010 - Lauri Korpikoski||17||19||36||17||18|
Korpikoski has been a beast during this season's series scoring two goals and an assist with a plus-2 rating. Only Ray Whitney has more points against the Blues, but he is still not quite 100%.