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Arizona Coyotes head to Detroit to play the Red Wings

The Arizona Coyotes have a very important four game stretch beginning the week, starting with tonight's game versus Detroit.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Is there such a thing as a "trap game" for a 29th place team?

With all of the anticipation leading up to the two games the Arizona Coyotes will play against the Buffalo Sabres this week, the Coyotes will actually begin their East Coast trek against the Detroit Red Wings this evening.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Detroit Red Wings
Points 50 (7th Pacific) 89 (3rd Atlantic)
Goals For 1.97 (29th) 2.83 (9th)
Goals Against 3.25 (28th) 2.55 (14th)
Power Play 20.1% (7th) 25.0% (1st)
Penalty Kill 78.2% (26th) 81.4% (15th)
5v5 SAT 49.0% (22nd) 53.5% (T-2nd)
SpSV% 96.8 (T-29th) 100.5 (12th)

View from Arizona

There are relatively few storylines at this point that have yet to be discussed. The team's offensive woes are stark and unchanging, while Mike Smith's resurgence in the second half of the season has been unequivocally the brightest spot of the year for the Coyotes.

Arizona will see an old-new face return for the first time this year though. Jordan Szwarz was called-up to the Coyotes after spending all of this season in AHL Portland. He scored three goals in 26 games last season, but was passed over for an earlier call-up this year thanks to the strong play of Lucas Lessio, Brendan Shinnimin, and of course, Tobias Rieder. It looks like he will draw in tonight though, so Szwarz will hopefully provide a lift to an offense that badly needs it.

View from Detroit

Another year, another playoff berth for the Detroit Red Wings.

With both a five point lead and two games in hand over the fourth place Boston Bruins, the Winged Wheel is inching closer and closer to a first round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason. All is not well recently for the Wings though; they are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and have fallen behind Tampa and Montreal for home ice in the postseason.

Still, Detroit's offense remains high-powered and deadly. Henrik Zetterberg is on the cusp of reaching the 60 point mark for the eighth time in his NHL career, and both Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist stand a chance at reaching 30 goals on the season. Though neither Jimmy Howard nor Petr Mrazek have been elite level goaltenders thus far, they should provide fits for whomever they draw in the first round.

Keys to the Game

  • Speedsters - Arizona has several speedy options up and down their lineup in Rieder, Szwarz, and Lauri Korpikoski. Those guys need to stretch the ice out and force Detroit's defenders to stay closer to home.
  • No Penalties - Detroit's power play converts once every four opportunities. That alarmingly high rate should concern the Coyotes, who give up power play goals at almost the same rate.
  • Play Hard - At this point, the Coyotes need to continue to put in their best effort. Wins have been hard to come by of late, but the team is certainly trying, and fans appreciate that.

Who's Hot

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is scary good. He's scored three of the team's last four goals, including this beauty against the Canucks Sunday night:

Marek Zidlicky has three goals and five assists in ten games for the Red Wings this year. He's been a difference maker in very short time for the Wings.

Injury Report

Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker have been shut down for the rest of the year, but the Coyotes are skating completely healthy otherwise.

Johan Franzen and Jonas Gustavsson are both out indefinitely with concussion symptoms, while Pavel Datsyuk is not expected to play tonight.

Puck Drop

By virtue of playing in the Eastern Time Zone, tonight's game starts at 4:30 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.