The Phoenix Coyotes had been on a 5 game point streak before getting beaten by the Chicago Blackhawks at home, but they are hoping to regain some momentum on the road against the San Jose Sharks. This will be the second meeting between these two teams this season, the first time ended with the Sharks topping the Yotes 5-3.
Up until the last game it had appeared that the Coyotes had everything figured out. Martin Hanzal and Steve Sullivan were coming back from injuries and the team was either winning games or getting points to move up in the standings. In order for the team to be successful they are going to either not think about their last game at all, or use it motivate them in tonight's game. The last time the Yotes faced the Sharks they weren't playing their best, but if they do they have a very good chance of grabbing another 2 points.
The Sharks started this season very impressively with 7 wins in a row, including a win in their home opener against the Coyotes, but since February they haven't had as much success. They lost in a shootout to Nashville and then again in back to back games against the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks. They too will be looking to get into form this afternoon, and being that they haven't played since Tuesday they should be well rested.
Five For Winning
1. Score First: The Coyotes play extremely well when they are winning, unfortunately they spend more time playing from behind and chasing the game. If the Coyotes can score first they can simplify their game and play the way they need to to get the win.
2. Stay Disciplined: Say what you want about the validity of some of the calls during the Blackhawks game, there is no reason for 2 players to receive penalties for arguing with the referees. The Yotes can not give the Sharks the same chances that they gave the Blackhawks by taking so many penalties and that requires discipline.
3. Defense: Defensively the Coyotes had been playing a lot better as of late, until last game. They need to forget about that game though and concentrate on what has made them successful.
4. Special Teams: The Coyotes have surprisingly been good at scoring goals on the power play, and hopefully they will continue that trend today.
5. Win in Regulation: With the shortened season a regulation win against an opponent becomes much more important. The Coyotes don't want to give their division rival any more points then they already have.
Likely Starting Goalies:
Mike Smith is looking to bounce back after a lackluster performance and earn his first win with his new, terrible hair cut.
Antti Niemi has played great so far this season, starting in 8 of the Sharks games with a record of 6-1-1 with a .927 save percentage and 2.06 goals against average.
Players to Watch:
Since he came back Martin Hanzal has been on a bit of a point streak, including one of the two goals against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has scored 4 goals in 4 games since returning, including the game winner against the Wild, and has a point in every game.
Joe Thornton leads the Sharks in points and was very good in the last game against the Coyotes where he scored a goal and had three assists. Expect him to be making some good plays, or at the very least setting up a few goals for the Sharks if given the opportunity.
Matthew Lombardi and David Schlemko are still out with what appear to be similar injuries. Reports suggest that Rostislav Klesla has been skating more with the team and may make his return to the lineup tonight.
Defenseman Brent Burns is still out for the Sharks.
Don't forget that this game is an afternoon affair. Puck drops at the HP Pavilion at 2 PM. Join us back here for an early afternoon gameday thread.