After two lackluster performances to start the the longest road trip of the season, Dave Tippett shook up the lineup hoping to generate a spark for the Coyotes. Derek Morris returned after missing Tuesday's game with an upper body injury, Tim Kennedy appeared in his first game as a Coyote and Paul Bissonnette and Rostislav Klesla made their regular season debuts in yesterday's bounce back 4-2 victory in Detroit. Morris added a goal, Klesla helped settle the penalty kill, while Bissonette and Kennedy added energy to an effective 4th line with Rob Klinkhammer.
Look for a similar shake-up tonight because of the possibility of Thomas Greiss making his first start for Phoenix. With tonight's game being the second of a back to back, the chances were good for him to appear, but Smith also was shaken up after making a save late in the third period against Detroit and will more than likely be given the night off. Hopefully the Yotes will play as hard in front of their new backup as they did for Smith yesterday.
The Flyers made one of the biggest moves of the young season when they fired head coach Peter Laviolette on Monday morning after only three games. Granted, they lost all three while scoring only one goal in each game. Craig Berube was named head coach in his place and the Flyers did respond by beating the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Tuesday night.
They also had a busy offseason, bringing in forward Vincent Lecavalier, defenseman Mark Streit and goalie Ray Emery as free agents while amnestying former Coyotes Daniel Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov.
Keys to Winning
Keep the train rolling. The Coyotes played a complete road game from opening puck drop to the final whistle against Detroit after less than inspiring performances in San Jose and Long Island. They need a repeat performance of this effort, especially on the second night of a back to back.
Don't allow the Flyers to get it going. Through four games, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds have combined for zero points. After a breakout performance during the shortened season, Jakub Voracek only has 1 assist. The Coyotes need to keep that trend intact for one more game to give themselves the best chance at victory.
Control the circles. Against Detroit, the Coyotes won 46 of 70 face-offs which allowed them to control the flow of play and keep Detroit's vaunted puck possesion game from taking effect. With the skill that the Flyers have among their top 2 lines, a similar strategy would play right into the Coyotes' hand.
#50 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Jul 20, 1982
|2013 - Antoine Vermette||1||2||3||4||2|
Vermette was put on a line with Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker against Detroit and responded with a goal and an assist while skating to a +3. He's also been a machine in the face-off circle, winning 59.6% of his draws which leads the team.
#40 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
Apr 21, 1980
|2013 - Vincent Lecavalier||1||2||3||-1||0|
Lecavalier has found a new home with Flyers after being amnestied by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer. He's tied for the team lead in points with his goal and 2 assists.
Likely Starting Goaltenders
#1 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Jan 29, 1986
|2013 - Thomas Greiss||1||20||0||0||1||3.00||8||7||.875||0|
Look for Greiss to make his first start as a Coyote this evening. He did see action in the loss to the Islanders, giving up a goal while stopping seven shots in the 3rd period of a game long decided. For his career, Greiss has a 17-16-3 record with a .912 save percentage and a 2.52 goals against average. He does have one career shutout which he achieved last season on January 26 against the Colorado Avalanche.
#35 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers
May 29, 1988
|2013 - Steve Mason||3||178||1||2||6||2.02||93||87||.935||0|
Mason has played well for the Flyers since joining the team during last season's trade deadline. In 10 games as a Flyer, Mason has a 5-4-0 record with a .942 SV% and a 1.94 GAA stopping 290 of 308 shots against. While he has lost 2 of his 3 starts this season, he's played well and at least kept the Flyers in the games.
|18th (2.50)||Goals For||29th (1.25)|
|24th (3.25)||Goals Against||12th (2.50)|
|24th (11.1)||Power Play %||26th (10.5)|
|25th (68.8)||Penalty Kill %||10th (85.0)|
The Flyers will be without Chris Pronger, who is on the long term IR (and is for all intents and purposes retired). Scott Hartnell is nursing an upper body injury but is expected to play.
The Coyotes will enter the game pretty healthy. Mike Smith was shaken up late in the game last night, but probably wasn't going to start today's game anyway. He did finish the game and appeared fine in the post game.
The Coyotes are still on the east coast, so it's another afternoon start scheduled for 4:00 pm Arizona time. The game can be seen on FSAZ and heard on KMVP 860 AM.