The Coyotes coughed up a two-goal lead yesterday afternoon but did manage to secure a point. The upside is that they won't have to sit on that loss for long as they are right back in action tonight against the Calgary Flames. This will be the second time in a week that these two teams square off. In the first matchup, the Coyotes dominated a Flames team on the 2nd half of a back to back by scoring less than a minute into the action and cruising to a 4-0 victory.
Calgary did play yesterday too, but since they played at home, they aren't going anywhere. They managed to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 thanks to strong play by both Matt Stajan and Joey MacDonald. They will be looking to exact some revenge on the Desert Dogs tonight.
Worrisome for the Coyotes is the injury bug that is once again rearing its ugly head this trip. The Coyotes were without Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, Derek Morris, and David Schlemko for yesterday's game, and there's no guarantee any of them dress for tonight's game either. Offensively, the Coyotes will need their depth players to step up.
Five For Winning
1. Purge the Bad Energy. A bad loss can really stick with a team, especially one that seemed well in hand. The Coyotes will need to come out strong to begin this game so that they can get their swagger back.
2. Follow the Game Plan. The Coyotes did nearly everything right the last time they played Calgary, and the two teams haven't changed a whole lot since then. If they can replicate the success they had the first time around, they will make their job much easier.
3. Power Play. Even by Phoenix standards, yesterday's power play was pitiful, although Matthew Lombardi did score a goal with the man advantage. They don't necessarily have to score to make the power play work; they just need to wear down the opposing team's defense and keep the puck 200 feet away from their own goaltender.
4. Road Cooking. Calgary has not played particularly well at home; they have yet to win two home games in a row. The Coyotes would like to make sure that trend continues.
5. Two Points. While there is no such thing as an easy game in the NHL, I don't think it's all that controversial to say that Vancouver is a better team than Calgary. With the Canucks next on the schedule the Coyotes will want to pick up two points here.
Players to Watch
Lombo scored a goal on the power play in his first game back for the Coyotes. If Vrbata and Hanzal can't go again, guys like him will be needed to keep the offense going.
Stajan has three goals in his previous four games, including two last night against Minnesota. Phoenix would like to keep him off the stat sheet in this one.
Projected Starting Goalies
Although Smitty hasn't played all that well in the 2nd game of back-to-backs, the shortened season combined with the early start time of yesterday's game could very easily put him back in net tonight.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. MacDonald played extremely well against the Wild last night, and since the Flames are still at home, look for him to play again tonight.
The Coyotes will certainly be without David Schlemko, who has started skating again but hasn't been cleared for contact after suffering a shoulder injury in early February. Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal, and Derek Morris are all still questionable after missing yesterday's game.