Anaheim, CA - The Anaheim Ducks (30-11-6) will be playing in the playoffs come either Tuesday or Wednesday. The Phoenix Coyotes (20-18-9) will not be, the first such occasion in head coach Dave Tippet’s four years in Phoenix. In the previous four matchups, the home team has taken the win, with the Coyotes’ two wins in the season series coming in shootouts. The Ducks don’t really have much to play for, besides resting the big guys and giving some AHL call ups some NHL experience. The same can be said about the Coyotes. We all know about their financial struggles and relocation rumors, so, it should be an interesting summer in the desert for the Yotes.
The story lines of this game was ‘The Perry Slide.’ Corey Perry received a nice feed from Bobby Ryan and then would out wait Jason LaBarbera as he crossed in front of the net and beat him for a 1-0 Ducks lead. LaBarbera would stand tall in the first two periods and hold off the Ducks for only 1 goal. The Coyotes would have the better of the play in the third period, but Jonas Hiller stood tall. Hiller would pick up the shutout after a Ryan Getzlaf empty netter sealed the victory. The RPG Line was reunited in this game after an injury to Kyle Palmieri and it looked real good, especially Bobby Ryan.
Breakdown of the Yotes:
It has been a bit of a disappointing season for the Coyotes after they made a run to the Western Conference Finals last season. Mike Smith, great defense, and timely scoring led the way for one of the more memorable playoff runs in the franchise. They have never really been able to get away from .500. They’ve been around .500 pretty much all season long. They currently stand at 49 points, which is going to be 2-to-6 points out of a playoff spot. In their last 10 games, they are 4-3-3, including a loss in their home finale to the Colorado Avalanche in a shootout. They are a team that are built from the net out. They rely on goaltending and solid defense.
It is not everyday that you see two of the top five leaders in points for an NHL team are defensemen. However, that is not surprising in the case of the Coyotes, with the talented offensive defenseman that they have. Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are two extremely talented offensive defenseman. Yandle leads them in points (28), is fourth in goals (10), and is third in assists (18). Ekman-Larsson is fifth in points (23) and leads them in assists (20). Up front they are lead by their franchise player Shane Doan. He was surrounded with some trade rumors this season, but obviously has stayed. He has tallied up 13 G and 13 A for 26 P this season. Along with Doan, forwards Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata round out the top five in points. They currently have 9 guys in double digit assists, so anyone on their team can distribute it. However, it’s all about the finish, which the Coyotes seem to struggle with. Back on the blue line, they have some very physical d-men in Zbynek Michalek, David Schlemko and Rostislav Klesla.
Keys to the Game:
- : Create a foundation to work off of for next season.
- : Fighting for jobs
- : NO INJURIES.
- : NO INJURIES.
Players to Watch:
- - G – Mike Smith: He is what gives this franchise hope going forward. Since coming to the franchise, his play has lifted this team to a level of contender. He’s 4-2-2 in his last 8 with a 1.83 GAA and a .938 SV%.
- - D – Keith Yandle: A goal and three assists in his last two games. His supreme offensive skills have been well documented.
- - G – Viktor Fasth: His season has been absolutely phenomenal. In his last two games, he has posted a 1.48 GAA and a .942 SV%.
- - D – Cam Fowler: His offensive impact has really started to improve as the season has gone along. He has registered 3 points in his last 4 games and if the Ducks want to have a deep playoff run, then a confident and hot Fowler will help.
Starting Goalie Matchup:
- - Mike Smith: 15-12-5, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV% NOT CONFIRMED
- - Viktor Fasth: 15-5-2, 2.10 GAA, .924 SV%
The Coyotes always seem to pose a problem to the Ducks. The Ducks are certainly going to rest some regulars tonight, though. Among those will not be in the lineup are Emerson Etem, Matt Beleskey and Brad Staubitz. I wouldn’t be surprised if Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne get the night off, same with Saku Koivu. It is already been said that Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan WILL play tonight. Of course, Bobby has missed some time due to illness, so it is important to get him playing action again before the playoffs. Another for sure guy tonight is Radek Dvorak, which will be his 1,200th career NHL game. Luca Sbisa will not play as he continues to recover from his lower body injury, it is still unsure if he ready for Game 1. The Ducks also made their end of the season call-ups from Norfolk as well. The list of players that have been called up are Mat Clark, Max Friberg, John Gibson, Nate Guenin, Jordan Hendry, Peter Holland, Hampus Lindholm, and Harry Zolnierczyk. I would like to see some of those guys in action tonight, but that’s not my job. Before faceoff tonight, the Ducks may find out who they will be playing in the first round of the playoffs. There are a couple different scenarios, but the easy one is if the Detroit Red Wings defeat the Dallas Stars, then the Ducks will be hosting the Wings in Round 1.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks Bobby Ryan Brad Staubitz Cam Fowler Colorado Avalanche Corey Perry Dave Tippet David Schlemko Detroit Red Wings Emerson Etem Hampus Lindholm Harry Zolnierczyk Jason Labarbera John Gibson Jonas Hiller Jordan Hendry Keith Yandle Kyl Palmieri Luca Sbisa Mat Clark Matt Beleskey Max Friberg Mike Smith Mikkel Boedker Nate Guenin NHL Oliver Ekman-Larsson Peter Holland Phoenix Coyotes Radim Vrbata Rostislav Klesla Ryan Getzlaf Saku Koivu Shane Doan Teemu Selanne Viktor Fasth Zbynek Michalek