Game Day Blog: Preds vs. Phoenix Coyotes

Thursday, 03.25.2010 / 1:36 PM / Preview
By Tom Callahan  - Nashville Predators
Game Preview
Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Coyotes
Bridgestone Arena, 7 pm CST
TV:
Fox Sports Tennessee |  Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network

Two of the NHL’s biggest surprises hit the ice tonight when Phoenix and Nashville lock horns for the third of four meetings between the two this year. At 97 points, the Coyotes are just one point back of San Jose for the Pacific Division lead and two away from Chicago, the Western Conference overall leader. To say most people are surprised by the Coyotes might be an understatement, considering that they were picked to finish dead-last by many prognosticators. The job Dave Tippet has done in the desert definitely should merit consideration for Coach of the Year.

That said, the Coyotes have done what they’ve done on the basis of team play. Not one of their players ranks in the top 10 or even 25 of any offensive category. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is among the top ten in many stats and leads the league in shutouts, but otherwise you could be forgiven for not recognizing too many names on this club. Even the trade deadline acquisitions didn’t look all that incredible on paper, yet have really served to solidify and deepen an already talented club.

On Nashville’s end, the Preds have to get back to what won them games: playing with heart, intelligence, and urgency. There needs to be a will to win and a foot firmly on the gas pedal against the Coyotes tonight, otherwise a patient Phoenix team can pick them apart. Have a listen to my chat from this morning with Barry Trotz. You can clearly hear what he expects to get out of his team tonight and for the remainder of the regular season. Even before we rolled the tape, he called all eight remaining games “playoff games. Until we’re actually in the post-season, we need to treat all of these like the playoffs.”

Notes:
  • Only the Florida Panthers (8 seasons) have a longer post-season drought than the Coyotes and L.A. Kings (6 seasons). The latter seemed destined to end that stretch this year, while Florida extends its streak.
  • Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester has played the most career games without seeing the post-season at 544 heading into tonight, but Phoenix’s Zbynek Michalek is sixth on that list at 408.
  • Former Predators forward Vernon Fiddler figures in pretty mightily when he scores. The Coyotes are 20-1-1 when he has at least a point, and have won 13 in a row when Fids tallies.
  • Jason Arnott can tie Jarome Iginla if he hits the 20-goal plateau this year with an 11-year streak, the longest of any active players. Iginla has already topped the mark for 2010-11, while Arnott is sitting on 18 goals and 10 years.

Keys to the Game
  • 60 minutes of effort. You simply cannot ease into a game against the Coyotes and expect to win. Heck, even the Dallas Stars were able to beat a good but incomplete effort. Now is the time to leave it all out there.
  • Strong forecheck. The Predators need to get into the Phoenix zone with speed and pursue the puck hard. Cause some miscues, pounce on turnovers, and score a few with elbow grease.
  • Strong team defense. As I pointed out above, there’s no standout offensive player. That makes all four lines dangerous for the Coyotes, and the Preds need to be aware at all times.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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