Phoenix Coyotes @ Dallas Stars Preview: Continuing The Streak

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 26: Ray Whitney #13 and Radim Vrbata #17 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrate after Whitney scored a second period goal against the Dallas Stars during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on November 26, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tonight the Phoenix Coyotes will be taking on the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center at 6:30 pm. These two conference rivals haven't met since November when the Yotes shutout the Stars 3-0. These two teams both have 56 points, and they are seeking a playoff spot, but Dallas has more wins and they have played fewer games.

The Stars are coming after a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild last Saturday. They should be well rested having had the past two days off. It's also important to know that Dallas has a power play goal in their past three games after coming off the All-Star Break. Dallas has a very impressive home record, of 15-9-2. Dallas' Jamie Benn has 2 goals and 2 assists since the All-Star Break even though he didn't get on the boards against Minnesota.

The Coyotes have won their past two games including their 3-1 win over Detroit last night (God that's awesome to type) and have the potential to win three games in a row for the first time since October/November. Radim Vrbata has been great against Dallas, he has 15 points during his 17 visits to American Airlines Center including 4 goals and 2 assists in his past 6 games there. Last time the Yotes won 2 back-to-back games was in December when they beat the Panthers and Hurricanes.

Five For Winning

1. Win in regulation. The two games that Dallas has won were a result of shootouts. If they want to keep the Stars from moving ahead of them in the standings they are going to need to win it before overtime.

2. Defense. It's likely that Jason LaBarbera, who hasn't played against the Stars yet this season, will be starting tonight. Barbs doesn't have a great record this season, 3-7-1, and it would be nice for the defense to help him get a win.

3. Special Teams. Last night's game featured excellent performance by the power play and penalty kill teams. Dallas is the fifth most penalized team, so you can expect them to draw a lot of penalties tonight, and they also have a power play goal in their past their games so the PK is going to need to be great.

4. Discipline. The penalty kill is going to need to be good, but if the Desert Dogs aren't drawing penalties then they won't have to work that hard.

5. Score first, and early. The Yotes played last night and traveled right after so they are going to be tired. An early lead will definitely make things easier.


Key Players


Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Jun 13, 1981



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Radim Vrbata 24 19 43 12 16

He's the leading goal scorer for the Coyotes and he has a great record in Dallas. The past couple games he seems to be trying to set people up more, but if he has the shot he needs to take it.


Jamie Benn

#14 / Left Wing / Dallas Stars

6-2

208

Jul 18, 1989



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Jamie Benn 15 31 46 13 45

Benn's been on a roll since the All-Star Break. The Yotes are going to need to watch him, he's either going to be scoring or setting someone up.

Likely Goalies


Jason LaBarbera

#1 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-3

234

Jan 18, 1980



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Jason LaBarbera 15 770 3 7 35 2.73 386 351 .909 0

Mike Smith played last so I'm guessing Tippett is going to tap Barbs to start tonight.


Kari Lehtonen

#32 / Goalie / Dallas Stars

6-4

215

Nov 16, 1983



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Kari Lehtonen 32 1865 19 11 74 2.38 943 869 .922 1

Dallas' starting goalie has won 3 of the past 5 games including a shutout win against the Ducks last month. He also was in net the 2 games that Dallas won against Phoenix this season.

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
David Schlemko foot 01/08/2012


Dallas Stars Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brenden Morrow other-excused 02/03/2012

Head over to Defending Big D to check out the other side's perspective.

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