The Coyotes are back in town after a road trip in which two disastrous losses were forgotten thanks to three big victories. They will now try and take the positive momentum generated on the road and put it to good use at home against the Ottawa Senators.
Matchup at a Glance
|Ottawa Senators||Phoenix Coyotes|
|Points||4 (6th Atlantic)||8 (4th Pacific)|
|Goals Per Game||2.20 (23rd)||2.83 (T-13th)|
|Goals Against Per Game||3.00 (T-22nd)||2.83 (T-19th)|
|Power Play Percentage||16.7% (22nd)||20.0% (T-17th)|
|Penalty Kill Percentage||81.5% (13th)||79.3% (17th)|
The Senators have had a rocky start to their season. Tonight's game against Phoenix is the final game of a six game road trip to start the season that took the Sens through all three California teams. With a 1-2-2 record, the Senators are having a hard time pulling out games in regulation, and there may be a good reason why.
As of now, the Senators are averaging a whopping 43 shots against per game, meaning goaltending tandem Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner have been extremely busy this year. And while both netminders have played very well under the circumstances, that amount of pressure is not conducive to winning many games.
(Be sure to check out Silver Seven for comprehensive news about the Senators)
After blowout losses to the San Jose Sharks and the New York Islanders, last week's road trip looked to be a disaster in the making. Instead, the Coyotes pulled out consecutive wins against the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, and Carolina Hurricanes to right the ship. After allowing 10 goals in their two losses, the Coyotes held their opponents to just 6 in the previous three games.
Coyotes fans in particular are looking forward to tonight's game because of the return of former 3rd overall pick Kyle Turris. Turris' tenure in Phoenix was marked by a fast rookie season followed by the inevitable struggles of a young player brought up to the big leagues too early. With the change in management from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett, Turris suddenly found himself the odd man out in a system he didn't want to play in. He was traded to Ottawa in late 2011 after holding out for much of that season. For a fanbase that identifies with their team's unselfish, gritty style, the Turris debacle left a lot of hard feelings.
Keys to the Game
1. Shoot - The Senators have been allowing a staggering amount of shots this year. The Coyotes need to keep up that offensive pressure to keep Ottawa on their heels.
2. Stay Tight Defensively - There is some high end offensive talent on Ottawa's roster. Phoenix needs to minimize the amount of scoring chances against and give Mike Smith easy looks at the puck.
3. Control Possession - The Coyotes win games by keeping the puck more. Ottawa is 45% in the faceoff circle, while the Coyotes win more than half of their draws. If they can win the faceoff battle, they will be able to drive possession.
Players to Watch
|2013 - Bobby Ryan||3||2||5||0||4|
Though much of the focus will be placed on Kyle Turris, former Anaheim Duck Bobby Ryan is a huge concern for the Coyotes. He's a dynamic offensive threat, plus he is very familiar with the Coyotes from his time in the Pacific Division.
|2013 - Rob Klinkhammer||2||1||3||4||2|
Another former Ottawa Senator, Rob Klinkhammer may see extensive action tonight, as he was placed on the first line in practice yesterday. His two goals in the Carolina game and his strong play thoroughout the season suggest that Das Klinkhammer may be a late bloomer for fortuitously found his way to Phoenix.
Projected Starting Goaltenders
|2013 - Craig Anderson||4||190||1||1||10||3.16||118||108||.915||1|
Craig Anderson has managed to resurrect his career in Ottawa and play himself into the conversation for the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics. After Robin Lehner played the Sens last game, expect Anderson to get the nod tonight.
|2013 - Mike Smith||5||279||3||2||14||3.01||158||144||.911||0|
After two rocky performances in San Jose and New York, Smith has settled down quite nicely. The Coyotes would love to see a vintage performance from him tonight.
There are no injuries to report for either team, though Derek Morris took yesterday's practice off as a maintenance day.
Tonight's game begins at 7PM Arizona time. You can watch it on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on KMVP 860 AM.