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Arizona Coyotes vs Anaheim Ducks Preview: Back to Backs for Everyone

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The Coyotes head to California to face off against the Anaheim Ducks who have been playing much better recently.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks will be playing the second game of a back to back, and both of the teams played against a top team in the West. The Ducks are fresh of a win against the Los Angeles Kings on the road, whereas the Coyotes fell last night in Glendale against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes

Anaheim Ducks

Points

54 (4th in the Pacific)

55 (3rd in the Pacific)

Goals For

136 (11th)

102 (30th)

Goals Against

156 (28th)

111 (2nd)

Power Play

18.0 (17th)

18.3 (16th)

Penalty Kill

76.4 (29th)

89.8 (1st)

5v5 Corsi For*

46.8 (27th)

53.3 (5th)

PDO

101.0 (4th)

98.0 (30th)

View from Arizona

The Coyotes have been struggling in the past few games but things seem to be turning around on some level. There have been some bright spots; wins against the Kings and Wild and last night's ovetime loss against the Blackhawks are all brightish spots during weeks of a fair amount of losses. The 5-2 loss against the Jets and the 6-2 loss against the Kings were definitely the low points of the 2016 calendar year, but there is definitely signs that things can be improving soon.

The Coyotes had previously held a playoff spot but unfortunately that has slipped from their grasp, temporarily at least. One of the reasons that they maintained that spot, despite a less then ideal record, is because they won their most important games, the ones against their division rivals. Winning games against teams like the Ducks allowed them to hold a playoff spot while the Pacific struggled, but it looks like other Pacific Division teams are starting to turn it around, so if the Yotes want to continue to be in the playoff hunt they need to keep beating their division rivals.

View from Anaheim

For the Anaheim perspective, check out Anaheim Calling.

Most people expected the Anaheim Ducks to be a good team this season, especially after finishing first in the Pacific and in the top 4 in points last season, but for most of the season it looked like the Ducks were going to be closer to the bottom. However apparently the Ducks asked Santa for a better record this past Christmas because their record after December 27th has been much better, 12-3-1.

At the start of the season there was a lot to suggest that Anaheim wouldn't stay at the bottom of the standings though, from October to December Anaheim was top 10 in Corsi For % and second to last in PDO suggesting they had a lot of bad luck.* Put another way the Ducks were the anti-Coyotes for most of this season.

Keys to the Game

  • Special teams. This has been an issue with the Coyotes for most of this season but rarely is the importance of special teams perfectly encapsulated in two periods of a game. Against the Blackhawks last night the first goal of the game was a Coyotes power play goal, the Blackhawks took the lead in the second period with a short handed goal, and the Coyotes later took the lead with a power play goal.

  • Protect the goaltender. Back to backs are tough on everyone but early indications are that Tippett is going to start the fresh goaltender Anders Lindback tonight against the Ducks. This should be great news to people who think Tippett starts his goalies too much in back to back situations, but this season Lindback has not been that steady in net. The Coyotes should do what they can to make it an easy game their goalie.

  • Score early. Neither team really has the stamina advantage tonight. Both teams had to travel, although the Coyotes had to fly but its not much of a flight, and both faced off against very tough opponents. The best chance either team has may be to score early and put the other team on the defensive for the rest of the night.

Players to Watch

Oliver Ekman-Larsson had the first goal and two assists last night against the Blackhawks. He is currently tied for first on the team in points and continues to prove he is a vital part of the team.

Ryan Getzlaf has been few goals but a lot of assists so far season. He had a goal and an assist against the Kings and assists in eight of the Ducks' last nine games including two assists against Bruins.

Injury Report

Mike Smith and Joe Vitale are both out for tonight's game. Jarred Tinordi is questionable for tonight with an undisclosed injury.

Clayton Stoner is out with a hip injury for an undetermined amount of time. Shawn Horcoff was suspended for violated the NHL/NHLPA performance enhancing substances program and won't be back until March 11th.

Puck Drop

Tomorrow's game in Anaheim is at 8pm Arizona Time and will be featured on Fox Sports Arizona and ESPN PHX 620 AM

*Stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com