The once again hot Coyotes make their way back to Jobbing.com arena tonight to take on the Anaheim Ducks. The Coyotes went 2-1 on the eastern roadtrip with the goaltending once again being the difference maker. Jason LaBarbera was strong against the Blue Jackets and Ilya Bryzgalov shutout the Blues. Maybe LaBarbera as competition for Bryz is actually working out. All of the guys that nobody was really expecting a whole lot from contributed on Thursady. Daniel Winnik got a goal, Taylor Pyatt added the second and Vern Fiddler was again strong on faceoffs and with his passing. Coach Dave Tippett said we'd need scoring by committee to be successful and contributions from that third/fourth line are huge.
Anaheim is coming of a rare win at home in which the lit up the Canucks 7-2. The Ducks have not had a very good start to the season going 4-6-1 for nine points so far. A big reason has been a lack of defensive effort as after the departure of Chris Pronger, the blueline just hasn't had the same punch. That's led to more scoring chances and the goalies haven't helped. J.S. Giguere has been bumped to backup, but has lost all three of his starts (one in OT) of his starts and sports an overall GAA of 3.64 and Jonas Hiller has been iffy as well going 4-4-0 with a 3.06. Hopefully the offensive production was an aberration for the Ducks as well.
No TV coverage locally tonight, so get to the arena or listen on 910AM
Five for Winning
Watch out for the 4th Line: In the Ducks win against the Canucks, it wasn't just Getzlaf and Perry doing the scorring, George Parros got a goal and so Did Mike Brown. Linemate Ryan Cater got an assist on both of the goals as well. We know Hanzal's line will be out there against the big guys, but we also need to make sure that the 4th line scoring for them was a one night only kind of thing.
Watch Out For Ours Too: As previously mentioned, the Winnik-Fiddler-Pyatt line wasmaking things happen on Thursday. Getting those goals for both Winnik and Pyatt looked like real confidence boosters. Especially for WInnik who was snake bitten last year and couldn't find the net to save his life. Hopefully that makes him more willing to shoot and take chances. For Pyatt it should reinforce the idea that collapsing on the next is a good thing. He was on his way to park there as Fiddler found him for that pretty goal.
What's up Mueller?: The slump continues for forward Peter Mueller who has yet to find the back of the net, or really any kind of offensive rhythm. According to the Preview on the Coyotes site "Coyotes forward Peter Mueller still is seeking his first goal of the season. Mueller played a season-low 10:21 on Thursday." That's not a good sign for Peter as it's become clear that you need to earn your ice time on this squad. He needs to pick it up or he's going to be watching a game or two from the press box.
Ilya! Ilya! Ilya!: For Ilya Bryzgalov, leading the league in Shutouts with 3 in this young season is huge. As many Coyotes fans know, if he gets down on himself it's hard to get the confidence back up for the next game quickly and what was a bad performance can snowball into a long streak. But it seems as though he's responding to both good team effort in front of him and being backed up by a competent goalie as well. He's putting in All-Star worthy performances so far which is what we'll need to find the post season this year.
New Jovo?: He's a had a few cone worthy performances this year, but overall he's much improved (though still overpaid) from last year. He's tied for the team lead in both goals (4) and points (12). He's actually laid a few good hits on some people too. It's nice to see him actually leading the blueline by example this year instead of just wearing the A.