Two teams with the same point totals will play one another tonight, but both are heading in two different directions. The Wild are 11-3-1 on the road since their win in Phoenix on Dec. 9 while the Coyotes have lost five straight at home. Phoenix’s 25 points at home is the second lowest total in the Western Conference.
Unlike Phoenix, Minnesota has gotten off the a good start since the second half began. They beat the Kings 1-0 on Tuesday and then held on for a 4-3 victory in Colorado over the Avalanche on Thursday. Andrew Brunette was key to their victory with his two goals. The winger has five goals in his last eight games. The Coyotes have lost their first two games since the stretch run started this week. They blew a three-goal lead in San Jose and got blow out the other night against Vancouver.
Minnesota has had a pretty nice combo between the pipes with Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore. Backstrom has a 16-11-3 record with a 2.43 GAA and .920 save percentage. Theodore performed well when Backstrom was out with an injury back in January. So far this season, the veteran goalie has a 9-7-2 record with a 2.68 GAA and .914 save percentage. Backstrom should be in net tonight after getting a breather the other night against Colorado.
The Coyotes struggles at home can be attributed to their poor defense and lack of goaltending. Injuries have hit the defense hard and young players have had to step replace some of the Coyotes veterans on the blue line. Ilya Bryzgalov has had his struggles as well. During their five-game losing streak at home in which Bryz has started each one of those games, Phoenix’s goaltender has a 4.37 GAA. Bryzgalov has had a pretty good history against the Wild though. He is 5-2 with a 2.58 GAA in his past five games. Jason LaBarbera has started the two other games against Minnesota going 1-0-1 with a 3.97 GAA.
Will the Wild continue their hot play on the road and will the Coyotes finally end their losing skid at home? We will find out in just a few short hours.