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Arizona Coyotes head to Southern California to play the Anaheim Ducks

The Coyotes kick off the first half of a road back-to-back tonight.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief stint at home, the Arizona Coyotes are back on the road. Tonight they play the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center for the second time this season.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Anaheim Ducks
Points 13 (4th Pacific) 12 (5th Pacific)
Goals For 2.69 (11th) 1.50 (30th)
Goals Against 2.92 (23rd) 2.29 (6th)
Power Play 11.3% (30th) 11.9% (T-28th)
Penalty Kill 84.0% (10th) 91.7% (1st)
5v5 Corsi For 48.6% (22nd) 50.2% (14th)
PDO 100.5 (13th) 98.2 (25th)

View from Arizona

All eyes are once again on Mike Smith. Unfortunately, it's not for good reasons.

Smith's play has once again come under enormous scrutiny after the Coyotes' netminder gave up three goals in a period and a half's worth of play against the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Smith has given up 14 goals in his last four games.

As a result, Smith will have a seat tonight as the Coyotes go with Anders Lindback instead. While the Coyotes may go with Smith on the second half of the back-to-back in Los Angeles, he has not been getting it done recently for Arizona.

Even with Smith's struggles (or perhaps because of them), the Coyotes have mixed up their roster a little bit. Philip Samuelsson and Dustin Jeffrey both received a call-up to the NHL from Springfield, while Tyler Gaudet was demoted. Samuelsson was the presumptive favorite for the #7 defensive spot until Stefan Elliott was acquired for Brandon Gormley, so it will be interesting to see how he performs with the Coyotes.

View from Anaheim

For comprehensive coverage of the Ducks, be sure to check out Anaheim Calling.

What a difference a month makes. After Bruce Boudreau's Ducks staggered out of the gate to a dreadful 1-7-2 start, the Ducks have reeled off four consecutive wins and look much more like the team many picked to come out of the Western Conference in the playoffs this year.

Leading the Ducks in points is Corey Perry, with eight. He's tied for first on the team in goals with six other players: Mike Santorelli, Chris Stewart, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, and Hampus Lindholm. Although balanced scoring is never a bad thing, in general your team leader in goals should probably have more than two.

The Ducks still have yet to get goals from Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and Ryan Kesler. So clearly, the offense remains dormant. The fact that they're winning now is likely good enough to put out some fires, but those three need to pick up their games to turn the Ducks into a threat.

Keys to the Game

  • Make a save. Somebody. - The Coyotes have many questions in goal right now, predominately because the answer has been Mike Smith. Either Smith needs to play better or Dave Tippett needs to stop going to him.
  • Get the Power Play Going - Arizona got a power play goal in garbage time against the Rangers. The Coyotes could really use a momentum boost from their man advantage.
  • Stay Consistent - Were it not for the play of Mike Smith, we'd probably be having a different conversation about how Arizona played against New York. They were aggressive and tenacious the whole game. That's the approach they need to take against Anaheim.

Players to Watch

Martin Hanzal's first goal of the year was waved off due to a high-stick, but he is still well on his way to beating his career bests in assists and points with 12 helpers in 11 games this year.

Frederik Andersen has been pretty good all season for the Ducks, even when they weren't scoring for him. He has a .935 save percentage and a 2.03 GAA despite his 3-5-2 record.

Injury Report

The Coyotes will be without Joe Vitale for a while with an orbital bone fracture. Arizona may also be without Stefan Elliott, Antoine Vermette, and Nicklas Grossmann for tonight's game.

Anaheim has some injury concerns of their own. Nate Thompson, Simon Despres, and Jiri Sekac are all out on injured reserve, while Rickard Rakell is questionable for tonight.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 8 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.