Coyotes at Ducks Tonight

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Here I submit my evidence in defense of James Wisniewski: In the picture above, you see Wisniewski extending his forearm into the CHEST of Shane Doan. How do I know it’s the chest? Doan’s head does not move until after Wisniewski’s arm made contact with Doan’s body. With Wisniewski’s forearm planted into Doan’s chest, Doan’s momentum continued to carry his own body forward. Doan’s forward momentum and Wisniewski’s arm, which was going in the opposite direction, caused Wisniewski’s arm to roll up Doan’s chest and under his chin. This movement is what caused the violent-looking motion of Doan’s head snapping backwards. This also means it was NOT a head shot.

Is this my opinion? Sure it is. But please, tell me where I’m wrong.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s continue to the preview, which, not surprisingly, centers around Doan and Wisniewski. Wisniewski was suspended two games for allegedly delivering a head shot to Doan, and he’ll return just in time to play the same Phoenix team.

But as that will be the main story of the game, there are other things to consider. The Ducks have been playing excellent hockey for the last four games and will look to build on Thursday’s shutout victory against the division foes tonight. The Ducks will be facing a Phoenix team that hasn’t slowed down and is still ranked fifth in the Western Conference, while the Ducks are still struggling and are ranked 14th out of 15 teams.

Line combinations will remain the same as the last few games, but Coach Randy Carlyle has tinkered with the bottom two forward lines during games for various reasons including the amount of penalty kills the Ducks have to deal with. The lines are listed below. Jonas Hiller is expected to start again.

FORWARDS

Bobby Ryan     –     Ryan Getzlaf     –     Corey Perry

Joffrey Lupul     –     Saku Koivu     –     Teemu Selanne

Evgeny Artyukhin     –     Todd Marchant     –     Petteri Nokelainen

Mike Brown     –     Ryan Carter     –     George Parros

DEFENSE

Scott Niedermayer     –     Nick Boynton

Ryan Whitney     –     James Wisniewski

Steve Eminger     –     Brendan Mikkelson

__

From Shawn P. Roarke at NHL.com:

COYOTES (10-6-0) at DUCKS (5-7-2)

Last 10 — Phoenix 6-4-0; Anaheim 3-6-1

Season series — These teams meet for the second time in a week. Last Saturday, Radim Vrbata scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Coyotes a 3-2 win. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all three Anaheim shooters.

Big Story — Last Saturday’s game was a little testy — highlighted by a hit from Anaheim’s James Wisniewski on Coyotes captain Shane Doanthat resulted in a two-game suspension for the Ducks defenseman. Will the chippiness carry off as these teams meet for the second time in seven days? Wisniewski is back after serving his suspension and the Ducks are desperate for a home win to stop the bleeding in the Pacific Division. Anaheim trails Phoenix by 8 points and division leading San Jose by 12.

Team Scope:

Coyotes —Phoenix put a two-game losing streak to bed with an impressive 3-1 win against Chicago on Thursday. Well, impressive to outsiders, at least. It seems that Phoenix coach Dave Tippett still has some issues with his team.

“I’m still concerned about the penalties we’re taking but I like the compete level right down to the final buzzer,” he said. “It was entertaining for the fans, breakaways both ways and probably not the way we would have drawn up a game plan, but we’ll take the points and move on.”

Phoenix gave Chicago six power-play chances, but the Hawks struck out on each.

Ducks — Anaheim has taken five points from its last four games and hopes that it is a sign of good things starting to build for the team, which has dug itself a pretty sizable early-season hole.

“We have to start building confidence from little things,” right wing Teemu Selanne said after scoring twice in a 4-0 win against Nashville on Thursday night. “This team can play way better than we did. The good thing is we found a way to win the game, and that is all that really matters.”

Who’s Hot — Ilya Bryzgalov has been one of the stories of the season and he continued his stellar play with a 31-save against Chicago on Thursday.

“The story of this season has been the play of Craig Anderson and Ilya Bryzgalovin goal in Colorado and Phoenix,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Not many people gave either of those teams a chance before this season, but look at them now. Goaltendinghas clearly been the key in both places.”

Anaheim’s goaltending hasn’t been nearly as good, but Jonas Hiller did turn in a 40-save shutout on Thursday to give the Ducks a good feeling heading into Saturday night’s contest.

Injury Report — The Coyotes have a growing concern as their injury list continues to grow, especially on defense. Ed Jovanovski, who has been among the best players in the League in the first month, limped off during the second period of the game against Chicago. His status for Saturday’s game is unknown, but Phoenix will be without defensemen Kurt Sauer and Zbynek Michalek for the contest.

The Ducks are relatively healthy, missing just goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is on IR, but could return as soon as early next week.

Stat Pack — The Ducks’ penalty kill has not been good this season. It is ranked No. 28 in the League at 74.6 percent. But there is cause for optimism at The Pond. Anaheim went 5-for-5 on the kill in Thursday’s win against Nashville. More impressively, the high-flying Penguins went 0-for-6 against the Ducks in the previous game. In fact, the Ducks have killed a dozen straight opposition power-play chances going back to the second period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Phoenix.

Puck Drop —After losing to Phoenix last week, the Ducks probably are well aware that Phoenix is a far better team than it was last year. But in case Anaheim needs a reminder, perhaps coach Randy Carlyle will run out this quote by Quenneville in the wake of his team’s loss to the Coyotes this week: “They’re a better team, they’re deeper, they’re balanced, they have a very mobile defense, and they’ve got good goaltending. They’re playing tight and patient and it’s paid off.”