Phoenix Coyotes @ San Jose Sharks Preview: Sharkbait

Christian Petersen

After two hard fought games against Los Angeles and Nashville, the biggest question might be if the Coyotes will have an encore of October's meeting.

The Phoenix Coyotes

It has been an interesting week in Coyotes hockey. Thursday featured another surprising comeback as the Phoenix Coyotes came from three goals behind to win in a shootout against the Nashville Predators. Before that, on Tuesday, the Desert Dogs beat the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-1 victory. Now comes the true test, can the Coyotes beat the Sharks in the tank or are we in for a repeat performance from last month?

If the first period against Nashville showed anything, it’s that an encore is possible. Though the Predators' goals weren't pretty, they were still goals and coming back from a three goal deficit is not an option in an away game against a division rival that is leading you in almost every single statistic. There is one notable exception, first period scoring. If the Coyotes come out and set the right tone, beating the Sharks is more than possible. It requires something more like what we saw against Los Angeles.



Phoenix Coyotes

San Jose Sharks

Goals For (per game)

3.36 (3rd)

3.85 (1st)

Goals Against (per game)

3.07 (23rd)

1.77 (3rd)

Faceoff Percentage

53.6 (6th)

51.1 (14th)

Games Won Scoring 1st

.857 (5th)

.778 (11th)

Points

20 (Tied for 2nd in the Pacific)

22 (1st in the Pacific)


The San Jose Sharks

Nobody expected the Sharks to jump out the way they have so far this season. With essentially the same team as last season, they have done amazingly well. They lead the league with 22 points this season and there are no signs of stopping. A quick look at the NHL leader boards show why. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun lead the NHL in plus-minus, Joe Thornton is third in assists and Antti Niemi with most wins and most shutouts. Though older this is a very defensive team that has no problems putting the puck into the back of the net.

With that being said, Wednesday night's game against Los Angeles could have gone better. Though the Sharks drew first blood, it soon became a tit for tat game between the two Pacific Division teams leading to an overtime Kings goal ending it at 4-3 and giving the Sharks their second overtime loss of the season. A big part of the loss could be attributed to the Sharks’ faceoff percentage, setting at 51.1 for the season they only managed 37.1 in the tilt, an abysmally low number. If they can improve they’ll easily bounce back, if not they might just become food for the Desert Dogs.


Keys to Winning

  • Faceoffs - It's where San Jose has been hurting and if Antoine Vermette can stay strong in the circle it will make winning that much more likely (easier just isn't the right word).
  • Penalty Kill - Though the Coyotes aren't the most physical team in the league they do find all kinds of inventive ways to end up in the box. That isn't always a bad thing, sometimes that's what your team needs but hooking, holding, interference and the like aren't what this team needs. In their last two meetings the Sharks have been 50-percent on the powerplay even though they have a 22-percent average.
  • Keeping the Puck - In their last meeting, the Coyotes coughed up the puck 20 times to San Jose's 12 making it no small mystery why they were able to wrangle 55 shots on net. You can't win games being outshot like that and allowing the opposing team to have that much time with it. No matter what Toronto keeps trying to prove.

Who’s Hot


Keith Yandle

#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Sep 09, 1986


G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Keith Yandle 1 10 11 -3 6


The Coyotes defense is leading the NHL in scoring and Yandle has been a large part of it. With an assist on Thursday, Yandle now has a five-game point streak that he hopefully can keep going. Maybe it has something to do with the Red Sox winning the World Series. Maybe it doesn’t.


Logan Couture

#39 / Center / San Jose Sharks

6-1

200

Mar 28, 1989


G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Logan Couture 7 9 16 8 0


Couture is riding high with five points in the last three games. Juicy.

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
2013 - Mike Smith 12 666 7 2 33 2.97 373 340 .912 0


After taking Halloween off, Mike Smith will be back between the pipes for the Coyotes. Fun fact, he currently sits with 666 minutes of time on ice for this season.


Antti Niemi

San Jose Sharks


Data for this widget is not currently available




Niemi has continued to perform at an elite level with a 92.4 save percentage but has also faced a somewhat lower number of shots with an average of a little over 23 shots per game, ranked 16th in the league. For comparison, Mike Smith sits at 31 shots per game, Jimmy Howard at 28 and Corey Crawford at 25.

Injury Report

Jeff Halpern will be out of the game and is still undergoing tests and Rostislav Klesla remains on injured reserve. There are no other injuries aside from bumps and bruises according to Dave Tippett in a press conference yesterday.

Brent Burns and Adam Burish remain out of the San Jose lineup as well as former Coyote Raffi Torres.

Puck Drop

Game time is at 7:30pm at the SAP Center (AKA The Shark Tank). It will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona for TV and Arizona Sports 620AM for radio.

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