After a listless performance against the Lightning, the Coyotes take a short 2 game roadtrip starting tonight against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are not what one would call a "good" team at the moment. They've gone 7-11-2 so far for 16 points. That puts them just above the Ducks in the Western Conference standings. They have, however been pretty good at home going 5-2 at XCEL. Mikko Koivu leads the Wild in points at 5-13-18 and Andrew Brunette leads in goals with 7.The Coyotes need to take this team seriously though as they have not been playing well as of late. Against the Lightning there was zero energy and though the Wild haven't been all that great this year, if we look past them we'll have another L against us.
Five for Winning:
No More LaBarbera!: Some of those goals that went in on Monday were really soft. while I know Bryz lets those in now and then, I expect Ilya Bryzgalov to get both tonight's game, and unless he gets shelled, the game against St Louis as well. The season started out with myself and others liking Jason LaBarbera, but his recent performance has many calling for Al Montoya to get another shot in the big league.
Make the Wild Stay Minus: A lot of people don't like the +/- statistic, but it can help show patterns in teams and players. For example, Of the 25 skaters that have played games for the Wild this season only 5 are not in the -. 2 of the five left are at an even 0. That goes to show that at least at even strength, they haven't been all that strong.
Power Play woes: Just a few games ago, the Coyotes were one of the better teams in the league when it came to PP%. Now we've slid from a high of 6th in the league to a middling 14th. Minnesota isn't the team we want to face to bust out of that slump as even with a so-so record they still have an 82% PK percentage.
Weathering the Injury Storm: Now we've added Matthew Lombardi to the ever growing list of the Coyotes injured reserve joining Zbynek Michalek, Kurt Sauer and the Day-to-Day Ed Jovanovski. Hopefully we're just getting the injuries out of the way early and everyone will be completely healthy for the rest of the year once they come back because this is starting to get brutal. At least we're not lacking Forward prospects to call up unlike on the blueline.
Look out for the Second Period: Minnesota likes to score and get scored against this year in the second period. 52% of the goals against and 46% of their goals for come in the second period. Those are some pretty lopsided stats in terms of goal distribution. This bodes well for the Coyotes at least as they're usually waking up after a slow first period.