Wait, this isn't a Mighty Ducks 3 movie review? The Phoenix Coyotes are actually playing the Anaheim Ducks (nee Mighty Ducks) for a third consecutive time...and we are still writing previews? I suppose we need to give everyone somewhere to post their comments, but what more can we really say about this one as we have covered it all pretty well over the previous few days, with help from our friends at Anaheim Calling.
In case you slept through the last few games, the 'Yotes and Ducks played two fairly entertaining, offensively-oriented, bizarrely-officiated games at Jobing.com Arena with the Coyotes emerging victorious 5-4 in a shootout both nights. Head Coach Dave Tippett likely hasn't been thrilled with the way the team has been running and gunning with Anaheim or the defensive lapses and turnovers that have plagued the team in the first two contests. On the other hand, you can't complain about four points in two games even if you did give the Ducks the loser point both nights.
What, if anything, can we expect to change for night 3 of our mini-series with the Ducks, other than the venue? First, the Coyotes will look a little bit different again as they try and find ways to slow down the Ducks and earn two more points. Chris Brown will not be making a second consecutive start as his rough shift that led to a turnover and third period penalty earned him a trip back to Portland. It's also possible that tonight's game will see the return of Radim Vrbata. If Vrbata can't go, expect to see either Nick Johnson or Paul Bissonnette return to the lineup. Although the teams are starting to get a little chippy after two straight games, I'd prefer to see Johnson reinserted into the lineup over Biz at this time.
Five for Winning
1. No Loser Point. Unless, of course, the Coyotes are going to come out on the short end of this one - in that case, by all means, get this game to OT boys!
2. Stay Disciplined. The Coyotes only took two penalties, but gave up a power play goal and some decent scoring chances on the second try. The Ducks are one of the best in the league with the man advantage, so the 'Yotes need to keep that unit on the bench.
3. Finish Periods Strong. This has been an inexplicable problem for two years now, but the shorthanded goal that Ryan Getzlaf scored really turned Monday's game around entirely - Coyotes need to find ways to get to the horn without something bad happening.
4. Return of the real Mike Smith. Smitty's defense has hung him out to dry a few times, but there have been a bunch of goals the past two games that I'm sure Mike would like back. Tonight would be a great time to see the return of the stand-on-his-head 30+ save Mike Smith.
5. Get Chipchura a Penalty Shot. In all honesty, if Kyle Chipchura gets taken out on another breakaway and isn't awarded a penalty shot, I'm getting my tinfoil hat out.
Players to Watch
#24 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Feb 19, 1986
|2012 - Kyle Chipchura||22||4||6||10||7||41||0||0||0||19|
Speaking of Chipchura, do those look like the stats of a 4th line grinder?!? Chip has been spectacular of late and is finding chemistry with everyone on the ice.
#8 / Right Wing / Anaheim Ducks
Jul 03, 1970
|2012 - Teemu Selanne||21||6||11||17||0||4||2||0||0||47|
Even though Teemu has slowed down considerably after his 4-point opening night performance this year, he's still one of the most exciting players on the ice at any time, and he's always been a bit of a Coyotes killer. The Coyotes have held the Finnish Flash scoreless through the first two games of the series and will be looking to continue that tonight.
Likely Starting Goalies
#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Mar 22, 1982
|2012 - Mike Smith||18||1013||9||6||49||2.90||491||442||.900||3|
#30 / Goalie / Anaheim Ducks
Aug 08, 1982
|2012 - Viktor Fasth||12||722||9||1||25||2.08||322||297||.922||1|
Neither Viktor Fasth nor Jonas Hiller nor Mike Smith have really been all that impressive in this series thus far. For the Coyotes, despite earlier in the year giving lip service to the idea of resting Smith more often, Tippett has been riding Smith all year and even with back-to-back games in two different cities, I'm not sure we will see Jason LaBarbera this week. For Bruce Boudreau, it's a coin flip, but I think Fasth looked a bit stronger than Hiller in the first two games and will get the nod tonight.
Radim Vrbata - lower body, gametime decision
David Schlemko - upper body, out
Kyle Palmieri - upper body, day-to-day