The Dallas Stars return to Jobing.com to face the Phoenix Coyotes for their final meeting of the season. Both teams are desperate for wins as Dallas is trying to climb over two teams to qualify for the playoffs and Phoenix is chasing the division lead.
Dallas and Phoenix are facing significant challenges. The Stars have won one game in their last six and the Coyotes have important players out of the lineup.
What will happen tonight? Can the Coyotes win without key members of the scoring committee?
The Stars have not performed well, especially against teams that are contending for the playoffs. In the last six games, the only game they picked up a win was against the Chicago Blackhawks and that was March 17. Kari Lehtonen has had difficulty preventing rebounds and the Stars have lost close one goal games that can drive a team crazy.
Taking out the losses against San Jose Sharks and Chicago as well, the Coyotes by contrast have found ways to win. They are able to lock down those close games by playing a defensive structure that plays to their strengths, especially with important players down due to injury.
There is no question that the Stars will play a desperate hockey game. Even though they have dropped a few, they are still a confident group. Now that Brad Richards is back from his concussion, the trio of Richards, Mike Riberio, and Loui Eriksson are the top three point getters with Richards leading the way in goals scored.
The Coyotes will have to have the rest of their stars step up. The fourth line of Ryan Hollweg, Andrew Ebbett, and Paul Bissonnette was real effective providing energy for the group during the last contest against the Sharks. However, if Lauri Korpikoski is out again tonight, the rest of the team needs to have a strong showing, especially the young tandem of Kyle Turris and Brett Maclean.
What will happen tonight is anybody's guess, but the Coyotes can take advantage of the situation and extend their point total against a division rival. The Coyotes need to shine in this one and block out the Stars.
Five for Winning
- Own the ice. Right now they have gotten off to lackluster starts and they paid for it against San Jose. They need to be hard on pucks, battle in the corners, and defend in front Ilya Bryzgalov moving the screens out so he can see what gets to him.
- Sacrifice. By blocking shots and taking hits to make plays. They need to follow Rostislav Klelsa's lead in this department.
- Powerplay. Generate movement on the power play by getting those pucks in and not stand around. Someone needs to be the office manager in front of Lehtonen and block his vision. So what if Martin Hanzal and Ed Jovanovski are not in the lineup - someone should step up.
- Play the complete game. During the victory against the Stars Dec. 11, the Coyotes rolled all four lines and just were relentless against them. Shane Doan and Paul Bissonnette led the hit parade and just pummeled the Stars. More of that this time...and with feeling.
- Stay Disciplined. Staying out of the penalty box is still vital. The Coyotes can't get goaded into doing something stupid.
|2010 - Kari Lehtonen||61||3654||30||21||157||2.58||1840||1683||.915||2|
|2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov||63||3747||34||19||156||2.50||1963||1807||.921||7|
|2010 - Loui Eriksson||24||41||65||13||8|
During this season's series between these two teams, Eriksson has been a beast collecting seven points (3G 4A) and running a plus-2.
|2010 - Shane Doan||18||38||56||5||63|
Look for Doan to break out tonight because they need him to. He has played well against the Stars scoring three goals, notching three assists, and carrying a plus-3 rating.