The Phoenix Coyotes play nine of their next eleven games at home. The home heavy stretch begins today when they take on a team three points ahead of them in the Western Conference standings. The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night and are 6-3-1 in their last ten games. The Coyotes on the other hand are coming off a stretch where they have lost eight of their last ten games. Today's game is the kind the Desert Dogs need to win and do so in regulation, so they can start making up ground on the teams in front of them.
The teams split the two games they have played against one another so far this season. Both games were in Denver. The Coyotes won the first one in early November while the Avs won their matchup in late December. One big change from their previous meetings is tonight's expected goalie matchup. In the previous two meetings, the Coyotes faced Semyon Varlamov. This afternoon the Avalanche are expected to start Jean Sebastian Giguere. In addition, the last time the squads played one another Dave Tippett started Jason Labarbera. Mike Smith is expected to get the nod today. Also, Peter Mueller will be in the lineup against his former team for the first time this season. Today's contest will be his third game back since suffering a another concussion early in the season.
Speaking of Smith, he and Radim Vrbata have been doing all they can recently to try and keep the Coyotes afloat. The time has come for their teammates to step up and help them out. Possibly an arena full of kids and an early start time will help jump start the rest of the roster.
Five For Winning
1. Play to the buzzer. The Coyotes have too often taken off the last couple minutes of periods and it has cost them points this season. Spending the last two minutes of periods running around your own D zone isn't the way to win hockey games.
2. Score three or more goals. Colorado has enough firepower that two goals isn't likely to get the Dogs a win today.
3. Shane Doan on the scoresheet. The captain had zero points on the Yotes three game road trip. The good news is he looked pretty good the last time the Desert Dogs played on home ice.
4. The Power Play. The Coyotes haven't scored a power play goal in almost two weeks. The Coyotes are not only dead last in the league in terms of power play percentage, but they are also dead last in power play opportunities. They at least need to draw penalties more penalties than the Avs do this afternoon.
5. Score first. The Coyotes are 0-11-0 when trailing after the first period.
|2011 - Taylor Pyatt||6||6||12||1||12|
Pyatt has a goal and two assists in the two previous games against the Avs this season. The Coyotes need him driving to the net and screening J.S. Giguere.
|2011 - Gabriel Landeskog||9||13||22||11||28|
Landeskog was the best player on the ice for the Avs the last time the teams played. The Dogs must not give him time and space with the puck.
This Afternoon's Likely Starting Goaltenders
|2011 - Mike Smith||33||1906||16||11||75||2.36||1002||927||.925||2|
|2011 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere||19||1070||10||6||37||2.07||491||454||.925||1|
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Colorado Avalanche Injuries
For the Avalanche perspective on things head over the Mile High Hockey.