Colorado Avalanche @ Phoenix Coyotes Preview: The Boys Are Back In Town

The Phoenix Coyotes will be coming home tomorrow after a 4 game road trip, which they were 2-1-1, with a game against the Colorado Avalanche. This is an important game for both teams who are looking to gain grounds in the playoffs. As it stands right now Phoenix is tied with the Los Angeles Kings and one point behind the Dallas Stars, so a win would move the Yotes above both teams as long as Dallas loses to the Vancouver Canucks and the Kings lose to the St. Louis Blues. This is going to be a big night for the entire Western Conference, 6 teams games will be played with Western Conference Playoff implications, and for a team like the Coyotes that is just on the outside looking in, these matches are very important.

The Coyotes will be going into the game coming off a shootout loss against the Dallas Stars in Dallas, and their last game at home also ended in a shootout loss. This past month at home the Yotes are 1-2-2 with their win being a 3-0 shut out against the San Jose Sharks. Against the Avalanche the Coyotes have played extremely well, they are 2-1-0, and they have outscored them 12-5. The one game that the Yotes played against the Avalanche this season at home the Coyotes won 6-1. Unfortunately the Desert Dogs will be playing without their Captain Shane Doan, this game will be the first of his 3 game suspension for elbowing Jamie Benn in the game against the Dallas Stars.

Colorado will be coming off a two game winning streak against tough teams like the hot Calgary Flames and the Eastern Conference leaders the New York Rangers. Beyond that streak they have been playing great this month with a record of 7-3-1, which including a 7-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Even with that high scoring game though they haven't really been scoring a lot, they average around 2.54 goals per game this month, and have been shut out twice by Columbus and New Jersey. The Avalanche has made a habit of taking games past regulations, which they have done in five of their past six games, and they are 4-0-1 during those five contests.

Five For Winning:

1. Step up and fill in the gaps. With Captain Coyote suspended for the next three games and Radim Vrbata possibly still ill someone is going to need to step up and fill their positions, especially since both players have had 4 goals against the Avalanche this season.

2. Lead the game. This has been a problem with the Coyotes since the end of last month, they fall behind early and have to chase the game, usually in the third. Of the three games that these two teams have played the Coyotes have won the two games they scored first in and lost the one they did not.

3. Limit turnovers. As we have come to find out this month turnovers can really change the hockey game. The Coyotes are going to need to limit them at all costs if they want a win tomorrow.

4. Win in regulation. Colorado is very comfortable taking the other team past regulation, they have been doing it a lot lately and they have been winning those post games. The Coyotes on the other hand have struggled in the shootout lately, and haven't won a game in overtime in a while.

5. Play smart. The Avalanche are 10th for power play percentage but they draw the fewest penalties in the league. They are not good at getting other teams to go into the box and the Coyotes should not make it easier for them.

Players To Watch


Ray Whitney

#13 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

5-10

180

May 08, 1972



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Ray Whitney 23 46 69 25 26

The Wizard Ray Whitney continues to rack up points on his march to 1000 career points, he scored a power play goal and assisted in the last game against the Stars.


Paul Stastny

#26 / Center / Colorado Avalanche

6-0

205

Dec 27, 1985



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Paul Stastny 19 30 49 -3 28

Paul Stastny has scored for Colorado in the past two games and has assists in the past four. In the Avalanche's last game against the Flames he scored the tying goal and the game was won off his rebounded shot.

Likely Starting Goalies


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Mike Smith 60 3478 32 18 137 2.36 1801 1664 .924 5

Mike Smith was in goal for the two wins against the Avalanche, and they have only managed to score on him twice this season. Just please don't try to do the poke if the game goes to the shootout.


Semyon Varlamov

#1 / Goalie / Colorado Avalanche

6-2

209

Apr 27, 1988



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Semyon Varlamov 47 2796 25 20 120 2.58 1384 1264 .913 4

Semyon Varlamov has won 10 of his last 12 starts and has been in the net every game against the Coyotes this season. Luckily the Coyotes have scored 11 times against him this season so hopefully they know all the holes in his game.

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Taylor Pyatt other-excused 03/21/2012
Radim Vrbata other-illness 03/21/2012

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Adrian Aucoin other-excused 03/21/2012

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Kyle Chipchura wrist 02/19/2012


Colorado Avalanche Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chuck Kobasew back 03/21/2012
Erik Johnson back 03/21/2012

Remember to come back tomorrow to join our game day thread and read any post game news, and head over to Mile High Hockey for their side of the story.

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