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Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Phoenix Coyotes
Venue: Jobing.com Arena; Phoenix, AZ
Time: 10:00 PM EST
Television: Detroit-FS-Detroit; Phoenix-FS-Arizona
If you are the Detroit Red Wings (16-11-5, 37 points, 5th place Western Conference), you could not ask for a better start to a four game road trip than with back to back wins over arguably one of the hottest teams in the NHL at the current moment. The Red Wings will look to keep the good times going and extend that winning streak to three games when they head to Phoenix to take on a familiar foe in the Phoenix Coyotes (13-14-4, 30 points, 12th place Western Conference). Tonight’s game is the first of three meetings in the final month of the season between the two teams.
The Red Wings are coming off of two very impressive wins against the Anaheim Ducks, both in Anaheim, on Friday night and last night taking the first contest 5-1 and the second contest 2-1. Before this weekend series, the Ducks haven’t scored less than two goals in a home game since they were shutout in their home opener. The lack of goals was due mostly to the strong play of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. Howard allowed only the two goals in the two games on 68 total shots on net. With the two wins against the Ducks this weekend, the Red Wings have won four straight road games and are now 3-1-1 in their past 5 road games and have scored a powerplay goal in all five of those games and a powerplay goal in their past seven straight overall. The strong play on the powerplay and the road has allowed the Red Wings to pad their position in the standings. Going into this weekend, they were in seventh place in the Western Conference and the two wins propelled them up to fifth with a somewhat comfortable lead over the ninth place San Jose Sharks with 16 games to play.
The Phoenix Coyotes are in the midst of a disappointing season. They are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-2009 season after coming off of a season where they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to eventual champion Los Angeles Kings. They are also currently in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season, which reached five games with their latest loss 2-1 at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks on March 21st. The losing streak that they are currently in was highlighted by their inability to score goals. They were shutout for three straight games, getting outscored 8-0 in those games. With their three days off, they should come out tonight well rested and angry and will be sure to give the Red Wings a run for their money.
Despite the strong play of Howard, the Red Wings will be starting Jonas Gustavsson in net after Howard has started the past five games. Gustavsson will be looking to bounce back from a shaky start on March 13th where he gave up five goals on 22 shots to the Calgary Flames. Gustavsson will be making his first career start against the Coyotes. Damien Brunner will be returning to the lineup tonight after being healthy scratch in last night’s game. There has been no word on who will be scratched to make room for him.
The Coyotes will be countering with Jason LaBarbera in net after Mike Smith was injured in last Thursday’s game against the Canucks. In his career, LaBarbera is 1-3-2 with an .833 save percentage and 3.73 GAA in eight games against the Red Wings. Given his record against the Red Wings, this will be a good opportunity for the Wings to tie their season long win streak of three games.
Players To Watch:
- Damien Brunner is still searching for his scoring touch once again as his goal drought has extended to 12 games. Hopefully the rest he got from last night’s game was enough for him to clear his head and to find the back of the net again. It is unsure which line he will be playing on in tonight’s game, but look for him to be all over the rink and very active towards the front of the net.
- Valtteri Filppula will be searching for his first goal in four games tonight. Since coming off the IR, Filppula has played pretty steadily, posting 2 goals and 1 assist in 6 games played. In his career, Filppula has recorded 10 points (4 goals 6 assists) in 22 games against the Coyotes.
- Shane Doan currently leads the Coyotes in goals scored this season will 11. He has 4 goals in his past 7 games played and has 18 total points (11 goals, 7 assists) in 31 games played. This has been a slow season for Doan which could possibly be linked to the uncertainty surrounding the teams future which could be weighing on his mind. Despite that, Doan is always a strong presence against the Red Wings and will be sure to play his best against them tonight.
- Keith Yandle was mentioned in trade rumors this past off season as the Red Wings were searching for a top four defenseman. Nothing ever came of it, and Yandle has put together another nice season, posting 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 31 games so far. In his career, Yandle has tallied 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) against the Red Wings.
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