Philadelphia Flyers @ Phoenix Coyotes preview: look who's coming to dinner

Bruce Bennett

Even with Shane Doan in the lineup it's still going to be a tough game tonight as the Coyotes take on the Flyers possibly without their top defensive pair.

One month ago Shane Doan had an assist on the lone goal against Calgary in his last game before beginning his battle with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Now, after missing twelve games because of the illness he's been cleared to play tonight.

Philadelphia Flyers

After a tough start to the season (one of them against the Coyotes) the Flyers are now sitting at third in the Metropolitan division. This is an entirely different team from the Flyers that Phoenix faced in October. Claude Giroux has 37 points and more goals than Mike Smith. They also made a change behind the bench. Craig Berube is now their new head coach. Since Berube was promoted the team has been 20-14-4. That first game against Phoenix this season was a tough one and it's possible that the Philadelphia Flyers will be looking for some revenge.

Phoenix Coyotes

Some part of me feels as though just writing SHANE DOAN about fifty times would sum this up, but it's not quite enough. After six straight overtime games the Coyotes finally ended a game in regulation, though not how they wanted. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson leaving in the first and being on the receiving end of a shutout it wasn't exactly a great way to start out 2014 but this game against Philadelphia gives the Yotes an opportunity to start a comeback. A 2-1 win against Philly in October helped solidify what became a seven-game point streak and helped set the tone for the first part of the season and this provides a golden opportunity to rekindle the fire.

With Zbynek Michalek still on IR and OEL questionable for the game (taking out the Coyote's top defensive pair) this isn't going to be like the Oct. 11 tilt. Having Shane Doan back is going to be a huge boost for morale and I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a breakout game as well.

Matchup at a Glance

Philadelphia Flyers

Phoenix Coyotes

Points

44 (3rd in Metropolitan)

49 (5th in Pacific)

Power Play/Penalty Kill

17.6% / 83.5%

19% / 78.3%

Penalty Minutes Per Game

16.2 (1st in NHL)

10.4 (9th)

Last 10 Games

7-2-1

3-3-4


Keys to the Game

  • Meat- The biggest issue for this game is going to be in the defensive end. If Ollie is healthy and back to his old game the Coyotes have a good chance, but even then it's going to be a tough game. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have found their stride and the key is going to be holding them off in the offensive zone.
  • Onions- The power play lately has been like onions, enough to make even the most hardened chef cry. Since their Dec. 21 game against the Ottawa Senators the Coyotes have gone 2 for 23 or 8.7% on the power play. Just a bit lower than Philly's unemployment rate.
  • Bread- The Coyotes' bread and butter has always been defense. With both goals allowed on the penalty kill against Columbus it's time to get back to old Coyotes hockey, stop the puck, keep it out of the zone and score when possible.
  • Cheese- The cheese on the Philly as it were will be the crowd. Yotes fans are going to be nuts over Doan and Flyers fans are going to be going crazy because well it's the Flyers and they haven't been here in ages. With the rise in attendance over the last few games another good game with an enthused crowd will definitely help a possibly OEL-less Coyotes team.

Players to Watch


Shane Doan

#19 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

223

Oct 10, 1976

G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Shane Doan 12 11 23 1 8

This will be Captain Coyote's first game back since Dec. 4. We can expect anything from Angry Doan to One-Man-Wrecking-Crew Doan to maybe even, if we're really lucky, Hat-Trick Doan!

Scott Hartnell

#19 / Left Wing / Philadelphia Flyers

6-2

210

Apr 18, 1982

G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Scott Hartnell 8 12 20 4 31

The other 19 is in the midst of a six game point streak. He’s also written a children’s book.

Likely Starting Goaltenders

Steve Mason

#35 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers

6-4

217

May 29, 1988

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Steve Mason 31 1796 16 10 71 2.37 914 843 .922 1

Mason is most likely to be between the posts and with his recent record he's earned it. He's won four of his last five games with his only loss a heartbreaking 2-1 tilt on Thursday.

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 20 1171 12 3 57 2.92 667 610 .915 0

After a being pulled against Edmonton Smith stopped 29 of 31 shots against Columbus, sadly it just wasn't enough. Smith has a 4-6-1 all-time record against Philly, though most games were played during his stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Injury Report

Erik Gustafsson and Michael Raffl are out for Philly and Matt Read is questionable. For Phoenix...did I mention Shane Doan is back?! Zbynek Michalek remains on IR and Oliver Ekman-Larsson is questionable.

Puck Drop

Tailgating starts at 2pm with the big face off at 6pm. If Jobing.com Arena is a little too far out of reach, you can catch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or hear it on 92.3FM KTAR.

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