Anaheim Ducks @ Phoenix Coyotes Preview: Another Must Win Game

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 31: Fans of the Phoenix Coyotes cheer during the NHL game agaisnt the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena on January 31, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Well folks its that time of the week again, time for the another big day in the Pacific Division and a must win game for the Phoenix Coyotes against the Anaheim Ducks. This will be the final meeting between these two teams, and the final regular season game against a Pacific Division rival. This game will also be Fan Appreciation Day, so if you are on the fence about going you should really head down to Jobing.com Arena, there will be lots of stuff given away and everyone gets a 2011-2012 Player Milestone poster.

This is going to be a night with major playoff implications for the Yotes, they are currently sitting at 8th place but they could get leapfrogged by the San Jose Sharks if the Sharks beat the Stars, but they could be in first in the division if they win and Dallas and LA both lose. Both teams will be going into the game having just beat the San Jose Sharks, Coyotes won 2-0 and the Ducks won 3-1. The Coyotes are going to have home ice advantage advantage, and their players are finally back and healthy again including Radim Vrbata, who scored the two goals against the Sharks, and Captain Shane Doan, who returned from his 3 game suspension against the Sharks.

The Ducks have been playing well against the Desert Dogs since they changed coaches earlier in the year, winning the past three games including the last game at Jobing.com. The Ducks have not been great on the road this month, they have went 1-3-1, beating only San Jose, but they did manage to get big wins over the Blues and Red Wings earlier this month so they shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Ducks are also officially out of the playoff race (shocker right?) but we aren’t really sure how that is going to translate into play yet, they may have less motivation, they may want to tank to go for the draft pick, or they may play without restrictions and be dangerous.

Five For Winning:

1. Score first. The Coyotes are definitely better when they aren't chasing the game, and they tend to win more games when they aren't waiting to come back in the third.

2. Don't give up the lead. In 2 of the 3 losses to the Ducks this season the Yotes had the lead but they let Ducks come back and get their own lead. If the Coyotes manage to get the lead they can't give it up this time.

3. Defense. During the Ducks wins they have scored on the Coyotes a lot, 14 times in 3 games to be exact. Defense is going to need to keep the Ducks away from the net and to the outside, force a few turnovers, clog up the neutral zone, and limit their own turnovers to keep the Ducks off the scoreboard.

4. Special teams. The Ducks are pretty much right in the middle for special teams, 16th in power play 15th in penalty kill. A good power play goal can change the momentum of the game, the Coyotes power play unit is going to need to play like they did against the Sharks, and the PK is going to need to be in top form.

5. Play to the crowd. Sure others may joke about our attendance but its Fan Appreciation Day, deep in a playoff race, you gotta figure there will be a lot of Coyotes fans there looking to cheer on the home team. Give them something to cheer about.

Key Players


Ray Whitney

#13 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

5-10

180

May 08, 1972



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Ray Whitney 23 50 73 25 26

Ray Whitney has been the player to watch pretty much every Coyotes game, he got two assists against the Sharks and is just one point shy of 1,000 career points. Hopefully this will be his night.


Teemu Selanne

#8 / Right Wing / Anaheim Ducks

6-0

196

Jul 03, 1970



G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Teemu Selanne 25 39 64 5 50

The Ducks right winger Teemu Selanne hasn't been great against the Coyotes, he scored an empty netter and got an assist, but he got the game winning goal against the Sharks and is definitely a skilled player who needs to be watched.

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 63 3663 34 18 142 2.33 1912 1770 .926 6

Mike Smith's last game against the Ducks didn't go well, but he's been playing a lot better as of late and he was great against the Sharks.


Jonas Hiller

#1 / Goalie / Anaheim Ducks

6-2

194

Feb 12, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Jonas Hiller 70 4068 29 28 171 2.52 1944 1773 .912 4

Jonas Hiller knows the Coyotes, he's been in every game against them this season, and he is looking for his 30th win this season.

Injuries


Phoenix Coyotes Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Taylor Pyatt other-excused 03/30/2012


Anaheim Ducks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Dan Ellis sports-hernia 01/07/2012

Remember to come back tomorrow for post game coverage and our game day thread, and pop over to Anaheim Calling to get their side of things.

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