Tonight is the final Saturday night regular season home game of the 2011-2012 campaign. And to be honest, it could be the final Saturday night home game of the Coyotes here in Phoenix. More on that in a separate post. The importance of all fans turning out tonight to cheer and support the team cannot be understated. We are getting some local media to show hockey highlights. They are talking about the Coyotes in positive tones. Let’s support the team tonight in such a way that the media has to make up for what they haven’t done the past eight years. Ray Whitney will get his 1000th point of his storied NHL career tonight. It needs to come on a feed to a snipe by Radim Vrbata or to Shane for his gangster knee drop on the power play from the right of the goalie.
The Ducks are in town. Anaheim comes in with a 33-33-11 record vs. the Coyotes at 38-27-13. At the beginning of the season, this is not the story the experts predicted. Phoenix was not supposed to win. No one told this locker room. Phoenix won the first two meetings this year, Anaheim has won the next three. This is the last meeting of the season.When Phoenix wins tonight, they will jump to first in the Pacific Division, third in the West provided the Minnesota Wild do the right thing and beat the LA Kings. Badly, with lost of injuries to the Kings. Sean Payton has contributed to a bounty program for the Wild players. At least that is what I heard.
Anaheim is not going to go quietly into the night. They have won three of the last four, are 23-11-5 in their last 39 games, but this is not enough to overcome their woeful start. Head coach Randy Carlyle was fired. The team openly tried to trade Bobby Ryan. Ryan is two goals away from getting 30 for the season, which would give him 30 a season in his first four seasons, making him the only other active player not named Alexander Ovechkin to accomplish this.
Both teams come in healthy in the principal players. For the Coyotes, only Taylor Pyatt is out due to an upper body injury. For Anaheim, Nate Guenin is out with, and I quote, “facial injuries.” Backup goalie Dan Ellis is out with a groin injury, forcing Jonas Hiller to play in his 71st game this season and 37 out of the last 39 games. Ironman.
Tonight is Fan Appreciation Night. I’d love to throw to the ice either a Duck fan or this hat I’ve had for four years. Your pick readers.