With the fourth game of the 2013 season the Phoenix Coyotes are really looking for a win against their division rival the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks will be coming into the game hot and rested, they won their first two games, one against the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers and they didn't play on Saturday. Luckily the Coyotes will also be coming in with momentum after a 5-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Coyotes can hopefully perform better than they did the in their first two games, another back to back situation, where they managed to scrap together some offense but too many defensive lapses lost the game for the Desert Dogs. Martin Hanzal and Rostislav Klesla did not play last night against the Blue Jackets because of lower-body injuries, however they were listed as day to day so it is possible that they will return to the lineup tonight. Mike Smith left last night's game 9 minutes in, many people did not expect him to play today but that may have sealed the deal that he would be sitting out today.
The Sharks acquired the recently bought out Scott Gomez yesterday. Gomez is not expected to play in tonight's contest. Although you may remember him from his terrible season last year which inspired website to keep track of the amount of time it had been since he last scored he is a talented center. Besides Gomez, the team has remained relatively the same, which is definitely a benefit for San Jose since there is potential for the chemistry to still be there.
Five For Winning
1. Start Strong. The Sharks scored 6 goals in the first period against the Edmonton Oilers, which created a deficit that not even the high offense Oilers could come back from. The Coyotes need to start strong and prevent the Sharks from getting on the board.
2. Defense. The Yotes have had some difficulties getting into their defensive system early in the season, but sooner or later they are going to need to click back into their system. Although things improved against the Blue Jackets, they still aren't up to level we expect them to be.
3. Special Teams. In the first game against the Dallas Stars the Coyotes power play was actually able to make it happen, scoring twice. Last night with another 2 power play goals Phoenix really showed potential to not have terrible power play for a change.
4. Contributions from everyone. Tippett gave the 4th liners a lot of time against the Blue Jackets because the grinders were playing great. That kind of play needs to continue into this game, and hopefully we can see a goal or two scored from the 3rd or 4th line.
5. Stop getting hurt. 2 big players weren't able to play in yesterday's game (3 if you count Smitty leaving early). This injury bug needs to stop. Please?
Players To Watch
It only took Steve Sullivan 3 games as a Coyote to score a hat-trick. He is a major player on the Phoenix power play and will hopefully continue to generate the offense that the Coyotes need to score goals.
Tonight's game is a homecoming for Stuart. He's back in a Sharks uniform for the first time since 2005. He was a 1st round draft pick of the club back in 1998. The 34 year old blueliner is still a solid defender and can contribute offensively.
Projected Starting Goalies
After Smith left the game early due to a "lower body injury" Barbs really stepped up and played a great game. Granted he wasn't tested much by the Blue Jackets he still had to make some clutch saves and he was in great form. With LaBarbara playing as great as he did and Smith now nursing an injury you can expect the back-up to start in net.
So far Niemi has played in 2 games and has 2 wins and is averaging 2 goals per game. While some goalies have been a little rusty coming off the lockout that doesn't seem to be the case for the San Jose goaltender, and he has the potential to make things very difficult for the Coyotes.
Martin Hanzal, Rostislav Klesla and Mike Smith all were injured yesterday, although all 3 players appear to be day to day. Smith will be traveling with the team to San Jose, although it is reported that Chad Johnson will be called up to backup Barbs. Hanzal and Klesla may play or may rest another game.
The Sharks placed Brent Burns on IR yesterday to make room for Scott Gomez on the roster.