Saturday night the Sharks will take on the Coyotes in a game that you could call a must win for the Coyotes. For several reasons, not excluding it is Buck Bash (get hot dogs, soda, and beer for a dollar) night. And you don’t want to disappoint drunk Coyote fans. For serious reasons, we need these two points. Here are the standings as of Friday night 8pm from the NHL.com site.
|1||* – DETROIT||CEN||52||35||16||1||71||29||167||121||+46||20-2-1||15-14-0||6-0||9-1-0||WON 2|
|2||* – VANCOUVER||NW||51||31||15||5||67||28||164||128||+36||15-6-4||16-9-1||3-5||6-2-2||OT 1|
|3||* – SAN JOSE||PAC||49||29||14||6||64||23||142||112||+30||17-8-2||12-6-4||6-3||6-3-1||WON 3|
|5||ST LOUIS||CEN||49||29||13||7||65||28||124||102||+22||21-3-4||8-10-3||1-6||7-1-2||OT 1|
|7||LOS ANGELES||PAC||51||25||16||10||60||21||114||113||+1||15-11-4||10-5-6||4-6||5-2-3||WON 2|
As you can see, the Coyotes are tied with Calgary for 12th spot with 52 points. That puts them 5 points behind Minnesota. The Wild, in 8th place. The team with no scoring and lackluster goaltending (talking about the Wild here folks) is riding in 8th place. Dallas, Colorado, Calgary, Edmonton, and Phoenix are all looking up at the Wild. I don’t think anyone was predicting this to the year of the Wild. We are not going to catch San Jose to win the Pacific. Los Angeles and Minnesota are the two teams that have the greatest chance of falling out of the top eight.
For the Coyotes, only David Schlemko is on injured reserve. The rest of the team is ready. Please God, and Shane, let Daymond Langkow wear a shield. His face has taken a beating this year. What do we need to see from Phoenix. Hard skating, hard competing, hard shots from the point. Second line contributions. Guys like Taylor Pyatt and Lauri Korpikoski have got to get on the board. Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon have to shut down San Jose. If they can contribute to scoring, even the better. 55% on face offs, lead the team in hits, and shut down Patrick Marleau.
Over to San Jose Sharks. First in the Pacific Division; on a three game winning streak, coming in rested. A perfect let down spot if you are a gambling type. Injuries to Martin Havlat , Tommy Wingels and Jason Demers means that you only have to keep eyes on forwards like Joe Thorton, Coyote Killer Patrick Marleau and last pick of the All-Star draft and Napolean Dynamite double Logan Couture. The defense that will hurt you Dan Boyle and Brett Burns can be contained. All these players are contributing to their success. And the secret of their success is scoring. 2.9 goals per game. +30 on the goal differential. 1 player at 21 goals (Logan Couture), 2 at 19 (Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski). Colin White and Douglas Murray are the only two players who have not scored that played more than half the games this season. Former Coyote Jim VandeMeer is rocking the donut look, but he has only played in 13 games this season.
Shark Goaltending is solid. Antti Niemi (22-10-5) has started 38 games posting a 2.24 goals against with a 0.92 save percentage. 4 shutouts. Stanley Cup in his back pocket. Back up Thomas Greiss (7-4-1), who has beat the Coyotes this year, is at 1.98 with a 0.925 save percentage. Solid goaltending. Since the lockout, the teams that have won consistently are the ones who have built their teams from the goalie out. There are outliers, like the Blackhawks of 2 seasons ago, but as a rule, keep the puck out of you net and you don’t have to score 4 a night.
What is going to beat San Jose. The usual; score first and keep them off the power play. Control the puck. No turnovers in the defensive zone. And if you are on the penalty kill, get the puck down the ice. We lead the league in failure to clear the zone. Can the Coyotes win. Absolutely. Can they get beat like a rented mule. Absolutely. I feel like Peter King here. Taking both sides while adding nothing. Score first. Early. Keep the crowd in it. We want to cheer, be loud, make fun of Antti Niemi.
Tags: Antti Niemi Boyd Gordon Buck Bash David Schlemko Daymond Langkow Joe Pavelski Lauri Korpikoski Logan Couture Martin Hanzal Napolean Dynamite Patrick Marleua Phoenix Coyotes San Jose Sharks Taylor Pyatt