COYOTES (19-11-2) at RED WINGS (16-11-5)
Last 10 -- Phoenix 7-2-1; Detroit 5-4-1
Season series -- This is the second meeting of the season between the Coyotes and Red Wings. Phoenix took the first contest, 3-2, on an Adrian Aucoin overtime goal back on Oct. 22 at Jobing.com Arena.
Big story -- The Coyotes are seeking to build another winning streak after their season-high five-game streak ended this past Thursday with an overtime loss at Los Angeles. They got back on the right track with a 2-1 victory over San Jose on Saturday. The Wings are looking to make it three wins in a row after overtime triumphs against Anaheim and Nashville this past Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Coyotes -- Phoenix has been a team on the rise, especially when you compare them to where they were on this same date last season. Their current 40 points has them in sixth place in the Western Conference and is a 10-point improvement from where they were at this point of the 2008-09 season. They have won six of their last seven games and appear poised to make a playoff run for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
Phoenix is succeeding on the strength of a balanced scoring attack led by seemingly ageless captain Shane Doan (19 points), newcomer Robert Lang (17 points) and center Matthew Lombardi (17 points). Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has also excelled this season, leading the Western Conference with a 1.95 goals-against average and also ranking second in the conference with 18 wins.
Red Wings -- The perennial powerhouse Red Wings are not used to be being in the bottom half of the Western Conference standings, but that is exactly where they currently reside. However, their 37 points this season has them a mere win away from getting back onto the positive side of the playoff picture.
The ninth-place Wings might actually be in the midst of the turnaround that they have been hoping for all season, having battled back from a 2-0 third-period deficit to the Ducks on Friday for a 3-2 overtime win and then following that up with another overtime victory on Saturday against the Predators, capped by the game-winner by veteran right wing Todd Bertuzzi.
Who's hot -- "Nobody Beats the Biz" was a hit tune for rapper Biz Markie back in 1987, but the theme for Phoenix this season has been "Nobody Beats the Bryz" as Bryzgalov has won six of his last seven games with a 1.42 GAA over that span. For Detroit, Bertuzzi has four goals in his last two games, including the game winning tallies over Anaheim and Nashville.
Injury report -- The Coyotes have no recent injuries and will also get defenseman Ed Jovanovski back after he served a two-game suspension for a blow to the head against Minnesota on Monday. Conversely, the Wings have five regulars on IR, including right wing Dan Cleary, who separated his shoulder Wednesday against St. Louis.
Stat pack -- Phoenix is second in the Western Conference with an average of 2.22 goals-against per game. The Red Wings rank first in the Western Conference with an average of 34 shots per game.
Puck drop -- "He's given us a chance when there's a breakdown. He's cleaned up a lot of messes for us." -- Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett on the stellar play of Bryzgalov this season.