Once again, the Ducks host division rival Coyotes. (via hockey-jerseys.ca)

Preview of Game 30: Phoenix Coyotes

Let’s try this again. After some more technical difficulties, I could not give you guys a preview of the previous two games. However, I’m back and so are the Phoenix Coyotes.

Season Series: 2-0 PHX

Last Matchup: 4-2 PHX – 11/23/11

The Ducks were able to score first int his one for the first time in 5 games when Saku Koivu redirected a puck past Mike Smith into the net almost 6 minutes into the game. The lead would not last though because of two goals from Keith Yandle and Radim Vrbata. The Coyotes would hold the lead for the rest of the game. Vrbata scored the only goal in the second period on a backhand. Then, in the third, Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored within the first 5 minutes and then Corey Perry scored to make it 4-2, which would be the final. The Ducks defense was once again, a no show, however Ekman-Larsson’s goal deflected off two Anaheim Ducks’ skates past Hiller. This was the Ducks 14th loss in their last 16 games.

Breakdown of the Coyotes:

The Coyotes are just 2-4 in the month of December, but have played some of the top teams in the league, such as Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville and Detroit. Most recently, they played the top team in the NHL, the Minnesota Wild this past Saturday. The Coyotes got off to a bad start by allowing a power play goal by Kyle Brodziak. The Wild scored the next three. Lauri Korpikoski scored the lone goal for the Coyotes in the last few minutes of the third period. The Coyotes lost the game 4-1, their second straight loss.

The Coyotes continue to have a balanced attack. They have 9 players with at least 10 points, but only two players who have over 10 goals. They would be Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata who have been the two stars up front for the Coyotes along with Martin Hanzal. However, don’t forget about Shane Doan, Boyd Gordon and Daymond Langkow. On defense, the big two that you would think of first, Yandle and Ekman-Larsson have had some competition this year. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla, David Schlemko and Adrian Aucoin have stepped up this year to be good performers on the blue line. Mike Smith has been stellar this year in net for Phoenix. I think he should get some consideration for the All-Star game.

Keys to the Game:

  • PHX: Advantage on the bench? Maybe, Dave Tippett has shown he is one of the most underrated coaches in the league.
  • PHX: Score first, when the Ducks get behind, they haven’t shown the ability to come back too many times.
  • ANA: Welcome newcomer Rod Pelley to the lineup, his energy could be exactly what the Ducks need.
  • ANA: Boudreau needs to find the line combinations he wants to stay with in order to stop the free fall.

Players to Watch:

Prediction:

I’ve nearly lost all hope I have in this team this season. Part of that was reflected in a conversation I had with someone on twitter about the top prospects in this summer’s draft hahahahaha. Rod Pelley will make his debut for the Ducks tonight. I believe that I saw that Beauchemin will play tonight. Also, I believe Lubo could be a game time decision with Koivu still being out. With Hiller in net, facing Smith, it’s a pretty good goaltending matchup. However, Hiller has had much worse defensive help this season compared to Smith. This could be another tough game for the Ducks, what game isn’t a tough game for the Ducks this season. If the defense doesn’t straighten up, I think this is going to be another Ducks loss unfortunately.

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Tags: Adrian Aucoin Anaheim Ducks Boyd Gordon Corey Perry Dave Tippett David Schlemko Daymond Langkow Francois Beauchemin Jonas Hiller Keith Yandle Lauri Korpkoski Lubomir Visnovsky Martin Hanzal Mike Smith Oliver Ekman-Larsson Phoenix Coyotes Radim Vrbata Ray Whitney Rod Pelley Rostislav Klesla Saku Koivu Shane Doan Teemu Selanne

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