The Phoenix Coyotes have been struggling as of late; they are 3-5-2 in the past 10 which has lead many people to wonder if they would be sellers at the fast approaching trade deadline. Things seem to be improving though; they played very well against a red hot Minnesota Wild team, at one point coming back from a 2-0 deficit before they let up a goal in the final minute and lost in overtime, and they destroyed the Nashville Predators 7-4 in Nashville, leading the Predators 5-0 just 8 minutes into the game. The problem is nobody is really sure if the real Coyotes team is the one who can take a top team to overtime and win handily or the one who can drop 7 games in a row.
The San Jose Sharks have been doing well in the past few weeks. They currently sit in 7th in the Western Conference. They are 5-4-1 in the past 10 and they have shut out their past two opponents, the Detroit Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks. They have an amazing 10-1-4 home record this season and there only regulation loss at home came against the Chicago Blackhawks back in February.
This will be the third meeting this season between these two teams. The Coyotes are currently 1-1-0 this season against the Sharks. The Coyotes win came in a shootout after both teams played 65 minutes without a goal, and the loss was a painful late-game collapse in the first week of the season.
Five For Winning:
1. Score first. The Coyotes did that against Nashville and things seemed to work out okay. They should try that again.
2. Discipline. Penalties have been a problem for the Coyotes this season, a cross checking call against Antoine Vermette contributed to them losing the game and despite leading the Predators for the entire game the Coyotes took 5 penalties in Nashville. Hopefully the team has learned to stay out of the box.
3. Keep it in regulation. At this point the Coyotes can not give afford to give any team points, especially teams that are currently ahead of them.
4. Special teams. The Yotes' power play unit was good against Nashville scoring on one of their three chances and the penalty kill was perfect not letting Nashville score. Hopefully that trend can continue.
5. Tighten up the defense. Say what you will about the Coyotes 7-4 victory but it wasn't the Coyotes best defensive showing. The team needs to sure up their defense and keep the Sharks off the scoreboard, unless they plan on scoring 5 goals in the first period every game.
Players To Watch:
#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes
Jun 13, 1981
|2012 - Radim Vrbata||6||11||17||0||8|
Radim Vrbata played well against Nashville with 2 goals and an assist. Hopefully that was a sign of good things to come as the Coyotes have definitely missed his scoring abilities this season.
#8 / Center / San Jose Sharks
Jul 11, 1984
|2012 - Joe Pavelski||10||11||21||-1||6|
Joe Pavelski has 3 goals and an assist in his past 3 games and he scored the game winning goal against both Detroit and Anaheim. His 4 game winning goals this season is 6th in the NHL.
Likely Starting Goalies:
#1 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Jan 18, 1980
|2012 - Jason LaBarbera||11||481||2||5||22||2.74||257||235||.914||0|
Unless Mike Smith has completely healed you should probably expect Jason LaBarbera to be in net for the Coyotes. Barbs has been good in the past two games and he made some major saves against both Minnesota and Nashville. He stopped 34 of 38 shots in Nashville and 33 of the 37 shots in Minnesota.
#31 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Aug 29, 1983
|2012 - Antti Niemi||29||1739||15||8||62||2.14||820||758||.924||3|
Antti Niemi hasn't been scored on in 121 minutes and 40 seconds and he faced 49 shots in his past 2 goalless games. He held the Coyotes scoreless the last time these two teams met, although the silver lining is he couldn't stop either of the Coyotes shootout skaters.
Mike Smith: Upper Body
Lauri Korpikoski: Upper Body
Zbynek Michalek: Lower Body
Tim Kennedy: Undisclosed
Thomas Greiss: Neck
Remember to come back today for our game day thread and post game recap and you can head over to Fear the Fin to check out the Sharks perspective on today's game.