Phoenix Coyotes @ Boston Bruins preview: Two to make it three

Christian Petersen

The Phoenix Coyotes return to Boston after five years of home games and a trip to Prague, but will injured Czechs and a red hot former Coyote keep the Desert Dogs from winning two much needed points?

Phoenix Coyotes

Despite having won four of their last six games, the Phoenix Coyotes still find themselves outside of a needed wild card spot. The Dallas Stars are just one point ahead of the Coyotes with a game in hand and the Los Angeles Kings have been on an eight game tear making it extremely difficult for the Coyotes to possibly bypass the wild card bid altogether. In the run for the playoffs every game counts, even the ones against Eastern opponents.

The Yotes may not see the Bruins often, but when they have it's been an interesting tilt. Since the 2009-2010 season the Coyotes are 2-1-1 against the Bruins and allowed eight goals across all four games. However, this game is going to be a bit different from their previous meetings. The last time the Coyotes played in Boston was March 2009. Ilya Bryzgalov was in net and the Canadian Olympic team was still nearly a year away from winning gold in Vancouver.

Even though the point totals may be different, the Coyotes and Bruins have very similar statistics, almost like when the Coyotes took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in December. A loss just might make things that much worse in the race against the Minnesota Wild and Stars for a wild card spot.

Boston Bruins

The West might get a lot of attention with it's close contests but it's in the East where a war is being fought. Last night Boston beat its arch-rival Montreal Canadiens 4-1 and is now just one point outside of the top spot currently held by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The win also brought the Bruins to 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.

Though Boston has all but clinched a playoff spot, it's that drive to beat Pittsburgh (and if the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues keep the President's Trophy) that makes the Bruins all the more dangerous. On paper, they are similar to the Coyotes in a lot of ways but also drastically different. Faceoffs are almost equal and there is only a .1% difference in the power play, but compare that to the goals against averages and penalty kills and the Bruins have a solid upper hand.

If Boston wants to win they'll need to capitalize on the power play and stay tough defensively, something the Bruins have been more than capable of doing since the Olympic break.


Phoenix Coyotes

Boston Bruins

Points

73 (4th in Pacific)

91 (1st in Atlantic)

Faceoff Percentage

51.7% (7th in NHL)

52.0 (5th in NHL)

PP / PK Percentage

21% (3rd) / 79.6% (27th)

20.9% (4th) / 83.2% (11th)

Win Percentage, Trailing 1st

25.9% (21st)

42.9% (3rd)

Goals Against per Game

2.79 (18th)

2.17 (2nd)

Keys to the Game

  • The One-Two Punch: Rivalry games are awesome, they are like mini looks into the playoffs and have players giving their all. Their even better when you get a rest day and the other guy has to take you on after that type of battle. So far the Coyotes have only done OK in this category, losing more than they've won, but this is post-Olympic break and if the Coyotes want to make it into playoffs they need to start hitting teams when their down.
  • TKO: When it comes to Beantown the best option is to strike early and often. But more than that the Coyotes need keep the lead. Boston is third in the NHL for coming back after trailing in the first (just behind Anaheim and Pittsburgh) and after St. Louis and Washington and well more games than anyone would like to admit the biggest problem for this Coyotes defense is keeping a lead.
  • Defend the Smitty: Mike Smith has been lights out since coming back from Sochi but in many cases the problem has been what has been in front of him. Phoenix allows only three shots more per game on average than Boston, those three shots might just be the difference between the 18th in goals against per game that the Coyotes are and the 2nd that Boston is. Whether it's taking it to the body and blocking the shot or simply getting the puck out of the zone what is needed is a more concerted effort by the Coyotes defense to help keep the puck away from Smith and the net.

Player to Watch


Keith Yandle

#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Sep 09, 1986



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Keith Yandle 7 38 45 -18 43

The Boston boy has five assists in his last four games and now that he's playing in front of his hometown crowd who knows what the alternate captain might pull off. Goals anyone?

Projected Starting Goaltender


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982

GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Mike Smith 56 3261 24 19 10 142 2.69 1704 1558 .914 3

Starting against the Florida Panthers was a surprising move but Smith played well stopping 31 of the 32 shots he faced. However, despite all the praise he has allowed five power play goals against in the seven games since coming back from Sochi. It may not entirely be on him but as a netminder a lot does fall on his shoulders and against a Bruins team that is this good a power play goal against is the last thing the Yotes need.

Injury Report

Bruins forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Adam McQuaid are out for tonight's game. The two Martins (Erat and Hanzal) are out as well as defenseman David Schlemko for the Coyotes.

Puck Drop

Be ready for something completely different as the Phoenix Coyotes take on the Boston Bruins in primetime on NHL Network. Game time is 4pm, otherwise known as just in time for some second period happy hour. Radio play-by-play can be heard on KMVP 860AM.

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