NHL: Coyotes @ Jets Preview
The Phoenix Coyotes go on a short road trip after a poor home stand where the team only managed to grab four out of a possible 12 points.
Two teams with confidence issues squares off tonight in Winnipeg. The Jets have lost five straight with a scoring difference of 14-24 and are 3-7-0 in the last 10 games. Jets last win came on New Years Eve, a 3-0 game against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Coyotes have lost two straight (1-4 against Minnesota and 1-5 against Anaheim) and are 3-4-3 in the last 10 games.
The Jets fired head coach Claude Noel yesterday. He’s been replaced by former Carolina Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice. Maurice coached in the KHL last season where he lead Magnitogorsk Metallurg to a 27-13-12 record.
It will be interesting to see if a new coach can get the engines firing for the Jets.
The Coyotes sent down defenceman Connor Murphy to the team AHL-affiliate the Portland Pirates and called up forward Jordan Swzarz. David Schlemko will most likely take Murphy’s spot on the roster.
Bryan Little leads the Jets in scoring with 36p (15+21) in 47 games. Giant d-man Dustin Byfuglien is having a great year offensively as is currently second in scoring on the team with 35p (10+25) and third in the league in scoring by defencemen behind Duncan Keith and Erik Karlsson.
Radim Vrbata lead the Coyotes in scoring with 34p in 42 games (11+23) and Mikkel Boedker is the team’s leading goalscorer with 14 goals so far. Boedker has really picked up his game since switching to the right wing and every point he gets from now on adds to his career high.
Goaltending has been an issue for both these teams. Neither Mike Smith (GAA 2.89, SV% .910) nor Ondrej Pavelec (GAA 3.14, SV% .898) have shown why they should be the first choice in net. in Winnipeg, backup Al Montoya has been the far superior keeper when given the chance and in Phoenix Thomas Greiss is breathing down Smith’s neck.
After tonight’s game the Coyotes take on the St. Louis Blues tomorrow.
Keys to the game for Coyotes:
Forecheck – The forecheck is critical in order to put pressure on a struggling team like the Jets. Push up high and make it difficult for the Jets to get the puck out of their zone.
Traffic in front of the net – Shots are always important, but without traffic in front of the net, you’ll end up with fewer quality scoring chances. So get people in front of the Jets’ netminder and have Yandle and OEL start shooting away from the points.
Simple d-game – Keep things extremely simple in the defensive zone. Clear the puck out quickly and don’t do anything fancy. The Coyotes can’t afford to keep turning over the puck in their own end.