Phoenix Coyotes @ St. Louis Blues Preview: Reversing the Pattern

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - JANUARY 3: Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes makes a save against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on January 3, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the Coyotes 4-2. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Coyotes play their final two games of the season on the road. First up, is a battle with the St. Louis Blues on Friday at 4:30pm Arizona time. The game can be viewed on the NBC Sports Network. The Coyotes are throwing another viewing party for the game as well.

The Coyotes are winless in three attempts against the Blues this season. However, the same was true against the Blue Jackets until the Desert Dogs beat them on Tuesday night. The only problem is the St. Louis squad is of higher caliber than Columbus was. Phoenix is likely going to need a full 60 minute effort to defeat St. Louis.

Five For Winning

1. Two points. Regardless Thursday night's outcomes involving the Stars, Kings, and Sharks, the Desert Dogs need to be playing for the win. A pacific Division title is still possible and having home ice advantage in the first round would be nice for change.

2. Score first. The Blues have scored first in all three meetings between the teams so far this season. The Coyotes need to not allow the Blues to dictate the tempo of the game by getting a lead and sitting back and clogging the neutral zone.

3. Short passes/Pucks in deep. The Yotes need to do what they haven't done in prior games with the blues this year and make good decisions against Kent Hitchcock's system. This means giving up on stretch passes and passes from one side of the ice to other for the most part.

4. Pick up Mike Smith. Smith has been a one man team at times throughout this season, especially early and late in games. After Tuesday night his teammates owe him one. Phoenix needs to possess the puck much more and longer than they did against Columbus.

5. No brooms. The Yotes need this win to save from being swept by the Blues. Their is a good chance the two teams could meet again as soon as even next week. Phoenix could use some confidence going into a potential series with St. Louis. Hard to have any when the other team swept you in the regular season.

Key Players

Ray Whitney

#13 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

5-10

180

May 08, 1972

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Ray Whitney 80 24 51 75 25 26 8 0 1 183

Of the wingers 75 points this season, none have come against the Blues. In addition, Whitney and the rest of the top line were kept off the score sheet by the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. The o9ldest player on the Coyotes has driven the team's offense all year. In order to change their fortunes against St. Louis, Phoenix likely needs the Wizard to break out some of his magic.

Alex Pietrangelo

#27 / Defenseman / St. Louis Blues

6-3

206

Jan 18, 1990

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Alex Pietrangelo 79 12 38 50 18 36 6 0 6 196

Pietrangelo has 5 points against the Coyotes this season, the most by any Blues player. He also was the best player on the ice the last time the two squads met up on March 25th. He is arguably the best all around the defensemen in the league right now.

Likely Starting Goaltenders

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 65 3783 36 18 142 2.25 2010 1868 .929 8

The hottest goalie in the NHL should be between the pipes on Friday night. Given how poorly the Yotes have played against St. Louis this season they may need a performance rivaling Tuesday's from their number one netminder. Smith hopes to keep his shutout streak alive against the Blues. Smith has only played in one of the three games against the Blues this season.

Brian Elliott

#1 / Goalie / St. Louis Blues

6-3

201

Apr 09, 1985

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Brian Elliott 37 2175 23 9 54 1.49 940 886 .943 9

According to the stltoday.com , Kent Hitchcock is planning to split this weekend's games between his two goalies. Elliot is expected to start against the Coyotes while Jaroslav Halak is expected to start against the Red Wings on Saturday night. Elliot suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to Detroit is his last out on Wednesday night. He has looked like an elite goalie since late January. Elliot won both games he started against the Coyotes this season including the team's last meeting.


Injuries

No injuries reported for either club.

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