Arizona Coyotes (5-6-1) at Anaheim Ducks (10-3-1)
|Date & Time||Friday November 7, 2014, 10:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Anaheim Ducks / Arizona Coyotes --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
In their most recent victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs the Arizona Coyotes played the type of game they expect out of themselves. Early in the season the Coyotes have been giving up more goals than they are accustomed to under head coach Dave Tippett. There have been a lot of road games to start the year and their defense and goaltending has been shaky at best. Tuesday night the Coyotes clamped down and got a very encouraging performance from Mike Smith. The 32 year-old goaltender leads the league in losses and his 3.63 goals against average and .880 save percentage are both abysmal. Against Toronto Smith stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced on the night with both goals against coming with the Maple Leafs on the man advantage. Smith is such a vital piece to the success of this club that a game like this is nice to see because it’s a step in the right direction. Arizona jumped out to a quick start with Sam Gagner scoring his second goal of the season midway through the first period to give the Coyotes the lead and Martin Erat adding his fourth to make it 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. Anotine Vermette made it 3-0 early in the second and from there the Coyotes held on. The Pacific Division is extremely tough so head-to-head match ups against the top teams in the division are going to be extremely important. Friday night’s tilt at the Honda Center is already a big game this early in the season because the Coyotes find themselves 10 points behind Anaheim in early November, albeit with two games in hand. Arizona will have to play one of their best games of the season to walk out of this one with a victory.
For the Anaheim Ducks it’s all about getting their stars healthy again. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf both missed Wednesday night’s game against the New York Islanders due to the flu. Both players were sent home from the rink just hours before the start of the game and that just added to the rest of the personnel problems the Ducks have right now. Frederik Andersen has been one of the best goaltenders in the league but he has been sidelined with leg tightness, and youngster John Gibson was just placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. For a club that had goaltending questions coming into the season the play of those two players has changed it into a strength. Jason Labarbera has filled in nicely but he wasn’t able to do enough to steal the Ducks two points against the Islanders in this one. Labarbera allowed a very sloppy rebound early in the first period that allowed the Islanders to take the lead but settled down after that. Matt Beleskey and Emerson Etem scored in the second period to even the game and get the Ducks a point, but Sami Vatanen’s elbowing penalty in overtime cost Anaheim the game when John Tavares scored for the second time on the night to send the Ducks to a 3-2 loss. Andersen is expected back in net for the Ducks in this one and with close to 48 hours to recuperate there’s a good chance Getzlaf and Perry will be back in as well.
This should be a competitive game between division rivals on Friday night. It was nice to see the Coyotes play a decent game on Tuesday night but they still haven’t proven anything consistently to this point. Anaheim should be getting some key pieces back and if they do they should be fine in this one.