Red-hot Ducks set to host Coyotes
COYOTES (21-18-7) AT DUCKS (15-22-7)
– NHL-N, FS-A PLUS, PRIME
: Phoenix 3-3-4, Anaheim 6-3-1.
– This is the fourth of six meetings between these Pacific Division rivals. Phoenix has won two of the first three meetings this season, although the Ducks took the last matchup, 4-1 on Dec. 14. The teams split their six games last season.
– While the Coyotes have kept pace with most of the Western Conference despite some inconsistent play of late, the Ducks are enjoying their best stretch of the season. The Coyotes recently snapped a three-game losing skid and have lost five of seven games in the new year while Anaheim has caught fire, enjoying a 5-0-1 run the Ducks hope might get them back in the playoff picture.
– Since closing out an 8-2-2 run at the beginning of November, the Coyotes have had trouble stringing wins together. After going 6-9-1 in December, Phoenix has stumbled so far in 2012, going 2-2-3 in the New Year. That run includes a troubling three-game road swing in which Phoenix went 0-1-2.
Starting a stretch in which they'll play seven of their next eight games at home, the Coyotes hosted the Avalanche on Monday. Against Colorado, Gilbert Brule got things rolling early with his first goal of the season in just his third game since being claimed by the Coyotes off re-entry waivers on Jan. 11. Chuck Kobasew tied the game just 2:18 after Brule's marker, but from there the Coyotes went on an impressive scoring run.
Shane Doan and Boyd Gordon both scored twice and Brule added an assist to his goal as Phoenix scored five unanswered goals against Colorado and Mike Smith made 38 saves to wrap up a 6-1 win. The six goals were the most the Coyotes have scored in a game all season and their highest offensive output since Jan. 15, 2011.
– It took a while for the Ducks to turn things around after they fired Randy Carlyle on Nov. 30 and brought in former Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau to be their new coach. The team went 3-9-2 to start Boudreau's tenure behind their bench, but has managed to turn things around since ending a 1-6-1 run through December with a 4-2 win over the Islanders on Jan. 6.
That come-from-behind victory over the Isles sparked the Ducks' current 5-0-1 run in which they have averaged 4.2 goals per game. The winning stretch also includes an impressive 2-0-1 road trip through Western Canada. That trip ended Sunday night in Vancouver against one of the League's top teams.
Against the Canucks, Jason Blake
scored twice and fired an astonishing 10 shots to give Anaheim a 4-1 lead. Mason Raymond would cut the Ducks lead in the third but Jonas Hiller
's 21 saves secured a 4-2 Ducks win. Blake's 10 shots were easily a game high and were his most in a game since a nine-shot effort against Columbus on Nov. 19, 2010.
– Radim Vrbata is pacing the Phoenix offense with six points on his current five-game point streak while Gordon has three points in his last two games. … For the Ducks, Blake has four points in his last two games and Saku Koivu
has 14 points in his last 11 games. Teemu Selanne
and Bobby Ryan
also both have seven points in their last six games.
– Kurt Sauer (post-concussion syndrome), Martin Hanzal (face laceration), and David Schlemko (lower body) are on IR for Phoenix while Raffi Torres and Adrian Aucoin are questionable for the game on Wednesday. … For the Ducks, Devante Smith-Pelley (foot) and Dan Ellis
(groin) are on IR.
– Selanne, who is currently tied for 14th all-time in League scoring, recently saw the end of his nine-game point streak, the second-longest streak this season. The streak was also the longest in NHL history by a player aged 41 or older. Despite only playing four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, Selanne still ranks 13th in points in the history if the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise.
– While the Coyotes don't have a reputation for scoring goals in bunches, they appear to be a different team at home compared to away. Phoenix ranks sixth in the League in scoring on the road with 66 goals, while their 52 goals at home is among the lowest totals in the League, ahead of only Columbus and New Jersey.