With only 3 points on this extended 6 game roadtrip thus far the Phoenix Coyotes have got to find a way to come out of Dallas with 2 points to keep from falling even farther behind in the Pacific division race. A loss to the Dallas Stars tonight would put the Coyotes 11 points back, not a place you want to be at any point but especially not this early in the season. These types of extended slumps are killers and the exact opposite of what the guys did last year. It was long winning streaks that got them to 4th in the West. Whatever the problem is they need to collectively figure it the hell out and start skating. The current plan isn't working.
The Stars are one of the biggest surprised in the league so far as they lead the Pacific Division coming into tonight's game. Most thought they would be in the cellar as they were in a bit of a rebuild. Big performances from goalie Kari Lehtonen as well as backup Andrew Raycroft have been a big part of the team's success. Brad Richards has shown up in a big way despite constant trade rumors with a team leading 40 points (16-24-40). Those along with other contributions have made for a 6 game run in which the Stars haven't lost in regulation. The last time the Stars lost? To Phoenix on December 11th.
The lineup for the Coyotes isn't very clear either. Taylor Pyatt is still out, but there's no solid yes or no on either Ilya Bryzgalov or Radim Vrbata who are both with the team in Dallas but are gametime decisions. No one has been called up or sent down so that should mean whatever was wrong with Wojtek Wolski has cleared up and the Coyotes at least have a full roster tonight. Not that a callup would have been a bad thing. Maybe Brett MacLean could find the back of the net because no one else really is. Last year the lack of goal scoring wasn't as crucial as the defensive system kept the opposition from scoring too, but for whatever reason this group just hasn't been able to lock it down as well and it's costing them in a big way.
Five for Winning
No Delays: With 3 delay of game penalties in the first period of the last game against San Jose the Coyotes again killed themselves with penalties. They weren't even lazy ones like holding, but completely bad hockey play. Once? Okay, things happen, but 3 of them? That's just a collective effort to not have your heads in the game.
Just find the net: I could get all detailed here, but that hasn't seemed to do anything. Just get the puck in somehow. Clean, dirty, on the power play at this point I don't care how they go in so long as they do. This lack of scoring is getting painful. Hopefully they don't use all of it in one game either though.
Jovo's 1000th: In case you hadn't heard yet this will be JovoCop's 1000th NHL game. In celebration of this fact he should knock someone's head off or something. I wouldn't be sad if it was James Neal. Also acceptable a goal or two from the blueline.
Keep the feet moving: Along with the missing "team speed" I mentioned last time the COyotes aren't taking those extra strides to draw penalties on the opposition. When you keep skating into the corners it becomes much easier to get those hooking and holding calls than if you just absorb checks and sticks. It worked well early in the season and I don't get why they've gotten away from that.
Support Your Local Goaltender: In this stretch of games with Bryz out of action Jason LaBarbera ahas done well for the most part but the defense in front of him has really let him down. The fact is he's not quite at Bryz's level and if you allow too many bad chances on breakaways and odd man rushes he's going to get burned. The team has to know that they need to be more mindful on defense because LaB can't bail them out as much.
#89 / Left Wing / Phoenix Coyotes
Dec 16, 1989
Sure, he's only up for a little bit, but the coaching staff likes him and if he can use his wheels to get a few chances maybe net one that would put him even further into the good graces of the coaches. Besides who wouldn't rather be with the big team than on the buses?
#91 / Center / Dallas Stars
May 02, 1980
With 40 points he's 7th in the league in production. Think Martin Hanzal might be matched up against him? I think so.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
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Dallas Stars Injuries
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