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Phoenix Coyotes vs San Jose Sharks Preview: First Night On the Road

Coming off a 4-1 victory at home, the Phoenix Coyotes will be playing their first road game of the season against division rival San Jose Sharks.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks

Making few moves since last season, with the exception of adding Tyler Kennedy, the San Jose Sharks remain largely the same team they were last season.  The Sharks are commonly picked to be a playoff team, and according to some, a likely Stanley Cup winner. It isn't that hard to see why.  They are solid up front with three very good lines, good defense, and of course Antti Niemi's great goaltending.

In their first game against the Vancouver Canucks, nine players notched a point including Logan Couture with two. This is what Phoenix should expect from the Sharks. Players like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Couture will lead the scoring, with good contributions from throughout the line-up.

Last season, the Sharks started off strong winning  seven in a row before crashing back to .500 with seven consecutive losses.  It remains to be seen whether they will have a hot start again this year, especially since it is so difficult to compare the lockout condensed season to a regular 82-game season.

Phoenix Coyotes

The Coyotes opened their season strong with a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers.  Goaltending was solid, the power play showed a surprising amount of life compared to what fans have come to expect over the years, and the 5-on-5 play was good as well.

Being long time division rivals, the Yotes have a lot of experience playing the Sharks.  During preseason play, the Coyotes played San Jose twice, going 1-0-1. Phoenix had a 2-2-1 record against San Jose last season.

Keys to Winning:

Stay out of the box: In the last game against the the Rangers, the Coyotes had four penalties that resulted in them being short handed.  One of these penalties resulted in the Rangers scoring their lone goal of the evening.  Last season, the Coyotes were in the bottom third on the penalty kill, and unfortunately they didn't make any major additions to address that in the offseason, so it's best not to give the other team any advantage.

Keep up the offensive pressure: In the past, the Coyotes have been more about defense then offense.  While one game into the season isn't a great sample size, it did show something we haven't really seen for the Yotes in some time, offense.  If the Coyotes get going on offense, while maintaining a strong defensive core, there is no telling how far they can go.

Score first: Kyle Chipchura netted the first goal of the season for the Coyotes just over three minutes into the game. From that moment on, the Coyotes largely controlled the game.  Not having to chase the game definitely has its advantages and if the Coyotes are able to take an early lead, they can control the tempo of the game.

Who's Hot:

Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes



Jun 13, 1981

Radim Vrbata opened the 2013-2014 season with a hat trick against the New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist.  All that remains for the notably streaky goal scorer is to build off that and consistently generate offense.

Logan Couture

#39 / Center / San Jose Sharks



Mar 28, 1989

A lot of Sharks players got points against the Canucks but only one person walked away with two.  Logan Couture is one of the Sharks' top forwards, as evidenced by the two assists, and the second line center is expected to generate major offense this year for San Jose.

Likely Starting Goaltenders

Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes



Mar 22, 1982

Mike Smith was hoping to recover after a bad 2013 season and he came up strong in his first game.  He made some highlight reel saves and would have been the talk of the night had it not been for Vrbata coming up big with a hat trick.  If the first game is indicative of how he will be playing this year, he may have returned to his 2011-12 form.

Antti Niemi

#31 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks



Aug 29, 1983

Antti Niemi has consistently been a great goaltender who is coming off a great shortened season with the Sharks.  He also had a good first game allowing only Vancouver to score only once on 22 shots for a .955 save percentage.

Team Ranking:


Goals For: Tied for 4th (4)

Goals Against: Tied for 3rd (1)

PP Ranking: 5th in the NHL (33.3%)

PK Ranking: 22nd in the NHL (75%)


Goals For: Tied for 4th (4)

Goals Against: Tied for 3rd (1)

PP Ranking: 22nd in the NHL (00.0%)

PK Ranking: 18th in the NHL (83.3%)

Injury Report

Former Coyote Raffi Torres will be out three to four months with a torn right ACL and defensman Brad Stuart has been listed as day to day with a lower body injury since October 1.  Forwards Adam Burish and Martin Havlat are also out with a lower body injury and pelvic surgery respectively.

Rostislav Klesla will again be missing the game with the after suffering effects of a concussion and whiplash.  Paul Bissonnette will be sitting out his second of a three game suspension.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game at the SAP Center starts at 7:30PM Arizona Time and will be airing at 92.3 KTAR.