On Thursday, the Coyotes will play host to the Calgary Flames in a game that Phoenix is anxiously awaiting.
"Whenever a team wins their conference title or goes to the Stanley Cup Finals, they put a target on their back for every other team in the league," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "The same is true for Calgary. They had a great season two years ago and now every team is elevating their level of play against them."
This season, the Flames have struggled out of the gate posting a 4-5-1 record, but Gretzky knows that Phoenix can't afford to take Calgary lightly.
"They are one of those teams that will be there (in the playoffs) at the end of the season," said Gretzky. "You can't fool yourself into thinking otherwise. They are too good and will capitalize if your aren't ready."
Phoenix has also endured their own set of struggles early in the season, but as they prepare for their second game of a three game homestand, the Coyotes confident they can pick up points at home.
"We certainly want to win all three," said defenseman Derek Morris. "Obviously we need to take it one game at a time but we played well on Tuesday and that win gave us some much needed momentum as we head into Thursday's game."
SAPRYKIN GIVEN DAY OFF
After taking a puck off his foot in Tuesday night's game, Oleg Saprykin did not participate in Wednesday's practice, although he is expected to play on Thursday night against Calgary.
"I just decided to give him the day off today," said Gretzky. "He is fine and he is in great shape so I just wanted to give him an extra day before putting the skates back on, but he will play tomorrow night."
CUJO AIMS FOR No. 400
With 399 career NHL victories, Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph will return to the net on Thursday night as he tries to capture his milestone 400th milestone win.
While the Flames are one of the toughest teams in the Western Conference, history appears to be on "Cujo's" side. In 36 career games against Calgary, Joseph has recorded 24 victories. His career winning percentage against the Flames (.918) is his second highest against clubs he has faced more than 27 times.
In his last game against Calgary on October 17th, Joseph posted his 44th career shutout in a 2-0 decision.
Coyote's goaltender Brian Boucher again practiced with the club on Wednesday, but there is still no exact date for Boucher to begin his rehabilitation stint with the team's AHL affiliate in San Antonio.
"We are not going to rush him into an assignment," said Gretzky. "The last thing we want is too push him a little early and have him suffer a set back that results in another month off the ice. At this point we are going to wait until he is back to 100% and then we will get him back into some game situations."
The Coyotes will return to the ice on Thursday as they battle the Calgary Flames. The game can be seen on FSN Arizona or heard on KDUS-1060 AM as well as KDKB-93.3
On Saturday, October 29th, when Phoenix hosts the Dallas Stars, the first 5,000 kids (14-years of age and under) attending the game will receive a free "Howl-O-Ween" Candy Bag.