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Red Wings come to town

For the only time this season, the Detroit Red Wings come to Arizona in what will likely be a near sold out game.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Coyotes are back in action at home for the second consecutive game, which seems a little weird after being on the road for so long.  The Coyotes haven't played the Red Wings since October of last year when they swept the two game series, outscoring their opponent 9-4. They will hope some of the magic carries over.


Arizona Coyotes

Detroit Red Wings

Points

45 (6th Pacific)

69 (2nd Atlantic)

Goals Per Game

2.27 (26th)

2.94 (7th)

Goals Against Per Game

3.23 (27th)

2.39 (6th)

Power Play Percentage

22.9 (6th)

25.8% (1st)

Penalty Kill Percentage

77.4 (27th)

83.0% (11th)

5 on 5 Fenwick For Percentage *

48.3% (21st)

52.3% (9th)

PDO *

97 (30th)

100.7 (11th)

*Stats courtesy of War-On-Ice.com

View From Detroit

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To say Detroit has been playing well this season would be a bit of an understatement.  They are currently 30-12-9, second in the Eastern Conference behind only the surprisingly good Tampa Bay Lightning.  The move to the Eastern Conference seems to have benefited the Red Wings.  Recently the Red Wings have been great; they are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games, though five of those have come against teams that are currently out of the playoffs.

Detroit has been without goaltender Jimmy Howard for a while now, but backup Petr Mrazek has been solid.  Since January 7th he has 8 wins and a 2.36 goals against average.  He has had a few bad games, he was pulled in the first period of a game against the Sabres when he allowed 3 goals in 7 shots and has allowed 4 or more goals in 3 straight games.

You can't talk about the Detroit Red Wings this season without talking about the excellent sophomore season of Tomas Tatar.  Last season was Tatar's first full season in the NHL, and he finished with an impressive 19 goals and 20 assists in 73 games. In only 51 games so far this season he has 22 goals and 14 assists.

View From Arizona

The Coyotes have been playing much better lately, which isn't exactly what you want from a team that is closer to the bottom then the playoffs.  Mike Smith looked pretty shaky in the Ottawa game but he has kept the team in his other games like the game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The penalty kill, which had been the weakest part of an already week team has been solid over the past couple of weeks. They allowed just one power play goal in their last 14 times shorthanded  Post All Star Break the Coyotes look like a team that should be a playoff bubble team, not a team that is hoping for a lucky ping pong ball.

Keys to the Game

  1. Special teams. Its no surprise that the Coyotes have been winning more as their penalty kill has been improving.  The kill will be put to the test though against the best power play in the league right now.

  2. Solid goaltending. The Coyotes have been getting much better goaltending lately.  Smith is returning to form and has done his share to give the Coyotes a chance to win, which is all anyone can ask for.

  3. Discipline. The best way for the Yotes to prevent Detroit from scoring on the power play is to not give them a chance to get on it.  Minimizing penalties will be very important if the Coyotes want to win this one.

Who's Hot?

Detroit's Gustav Nyquist has points in six of the last seven games, with four goals and five assists in that stretch.  He started off the season hot with goals in his first four games however he followed that up with fiour games with no points, the first of a few brief pointless streaks.

On the Coyotes' end Oliver Ekman-Larsson has looked very good as of late.  In addition to the long goal in Toronto he had the game winning goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a goal against the Canadiens and an assist in the Philadelphia contest.

Injury Report

Martin Hanzal and Joe Vitale are both out with upper body injuries, with Vitale  officially moved to IR.  Mikkel Boedker is of course still out with lack of spleen and isn't likely to be back for a while.

Jimmy Howard is out with groin injury and is expected to return later this month.  Johan Franzen has been having headaches and there is no timetable yet for his return.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game at Gila River Arena will start at 6 PM and will air on Fox Sports Arizona and on the radio on 98.7 FM.