Wednesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes travel to Anaheim to take on the Ducks at the Honda Center. Disneyland is magical this time of year. The park is decorated for the holidays, and at night on Main Street USA, it snows. Every thirty minutes. Of course the snow is really foaming soap, so don’t try to catch a snowflake on your tongue. Mickey and friends not only appear in their normal clothes, but they also change into festive wear. We’ve got the pictures to prove it.
Anaheim, sitting in the cellar of the league with eight wins and twenty one points. They are scoring 2.28 goals per game but giving up 3.17. Both Jonas Hiller and Dan Ellis have a save percentage above 0.900. Hiller has a goals against of 3.12. A starting goalie cannot have this high a goals against if he wants to stay starting goalie. He was hurt earlier this year, but he needs either to rest and get completely healthy, or accept the back up role until he plays his way back to being the number one netminder. To spur the team, they fired their coach Randy Carlyle and installed Bruce Boudreau to no avail. The team is in the middle of a long stretch of eight games before Christmas, and this is the only home game. Therefore, the Ducks will be looking for these two points. Phoenix has won both of the previous contests this year and would love to go 3-0.
Playing on the same line are three of the best in the game. Ryan Getzlaf, Hart Trophy recipient Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan have 6, 12, and 10 goals respectively. Teemu Selanne, the ageless wonder, has tickled the twine nine times this year and twenty assists for a team leading 29 points. You think with this offensive firepower, they would have more than nine wins. Add in blue liners Cam Fowler and Francois Beauchemin, you have the base for a dynamic scoring machine. Subtract guys like Lubimor Visnovky (on IR), and you see how critical a defenseman is to the complexion of a team. For further reference, see how the Coyotes have played while Rusty Klesla has been out due to an injury. They are the straws that stir the drink.
What do the Coyotes need to do to come him with two points?
- Stay out of the penalty box. Our power play was so strong at the beginning of the year thanks to Mike Smith. If you listen to the Sean Burke interview of the Coyote website, he addresses what is going on. Smitty has not lost confidence or playing bad, he just have let in some soft goals. Things he kicked out last month are squeaking their way past him.
- Score first. Make Anaheim play desperate. Make them chase the game and the Coyotes. Phoenix plays best with a lead when they can really press the forecheck, get the turnover, and build upon that lead.
- Get Vrbata the puck. He needs to shoot. He is a shooter. A sniper. Snipers need ammo, Vrbata needs shots.
- No defensive zone turnovers. Anaheim will make you pay. It will end up in the back of your net.
- Play sixty minutes of hockey. Not like Detroit or Minnesota games, but like Chicago and Nashville. Three full periods.
My predictions have not been strong lately. I’ve given you the computer projections. My real picks, you have to comment on the site. So, no predictions.