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Coyotes vs. Blues Preview

Arizona has earned at least one point in five straight games

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- With less than a month left in the season, the Coyotes and St. Louis Blues will finally begin their three-game season series on Saturday night. The puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Arizona (26-35-9) will play St. Louis three times over the next 12 days.

"We want to finish this homestand off strong," said forward Josh Jooris, who notched two assists in Thursday's game vs. Detroit. "We play St. Louis three times in the next couple weeks so hopefully we send a message that we're not going to go down easy ... They're going to come into our building playing well and we've got to match their intensity. It's going to be a good battle."

Video: Josh Jooris previews Saturday's game vs. Blues

The Coyotes rank 29th in the NHL with 61 points, but they've earned at least one point in each of the past five games (3-0-2).

"You want to do as well as you can and climbing in the standings is a barometer of how you play," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We want our young guys to push right to the end. We want our veteran guys to push right to the end. You've got a lot of players in that room playing for contracts, too, so there's a lot at stake for individuals."

The Coyotes will play minus captain Shane Doan, who suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday's game that kept him sidelined for the entire third period. Doan is expected to join Arizona for its five-game road trip that begins Monday at the Nashville Predators. Meanwhile, defenseman Luke Schenn, who left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury after a scary crash into the boards, practiced Friday and will play Saturday, Tippett said.

Mike Smith will start in goal for the Coyotes after allowing four goals in a 5-4 shootout loss to Detroit on Thursday. Smith has struggled against the Blues in his career; he's 4-12-0 with a 3.58 goals-against-average and .882 save percentage.

Defenseman Jakob Chychrun has chipped in two goals and three assists in the past four games. The 18-year-old rookie has 19 points (seven goals, 12 asissts), the third highest season total by a rookie in Coyotes history behind Keith Ballard (39 in 2005-06) and Zbynek Michalek (24 in 2005-06).

"He's a mature young man," Tippett said. "(He's) an 18-year-old that is concerned about getting enough rest, concerned about his nutrition, concerned about watching video of himself playing. Not a lot of 18-year-old kids do that. He's a very dedicated athlete that way."

Video: Dave Tippett previews Saturday's game vs. Blues

St. Louis (37-28-5) has won six of its past seven games and has a firm grasp on the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference playoff standings, four points ahead of Los Angeles.

The Blues have won two of the first three games of a five-game road trip and allowed just four goals in those three games.

Forward Vladimir Tarasenko leads the team and ranks third in the NHL with 34 goals.

Jake Allen is expected to start in goal. He owns a 26-19-3 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

St. Louis has strong special teams. Its power-play unit is ranked fourth in the NHL (22.4 percent) and its penalty-killing unit is sixth (84.3 percent).

The Blues have 12 games left and only two are vs. teams currently in playoff position. 

"It's a different challenge," Head Coach Mike Yeo told the team's web site. "You have to be focused as far as how you're going to play with the puck. You can't turn it into a track meet or a game where it could go your way or could go the other way. You have to make sure you have the respect you need for your opponent and be prepared."

Video: Alex Goligoski previews Saturday's game vs. Blues

OFFICIAL GAME NOTES

BROADCAST INFO:

TV: FOX Sports Arizona 

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

COYOTES PROJECTED LINEUP VS. BLUES:

Forwards

Domi - Dvorak - Vrbata

Perlini - Martinook - Rieder

McGinn - Holland - Duclair

Crouse - Jooris - Pulkkinen

Defensemen

Ekman-Larsson - Schenn

Goligoski - Murphy 

Chychrun - DeAngelo

Goalies

Smith

Domingue

 

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