CALGARY, AB -- Missing the playoffs by just four points a season ago, a stable Phoenix Coyotes franchise could be one of the surprises in the newly formed Pacific Division.
The defensive team acquired some offensive pop in Mike Ribiero, while veteran goaltender and Olympic candidate Mike Smith seems dedicated to return to his stingy form. With stability both in the franchise and in net, the Coyotes could surprise in the West.
Phoenix has already shown that on the ice. The team is 5-2-2 this season and currently sits third in the Pacific Division, two points up on the Calgary Flames.
Last Season: 21-18-9, 51 points (10th in West)
Notable Additions: C Mike Ribeiro, LW Tim Kennedy, G Thomas Greiss
Notable Subtractions: C Boyd Gordon, RW Nick Johnson, G Chad Johnson, G Jason LaBarbera
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
After being held pointless in his first three games as a member of the Coyotes, Ribeiro has been rolling since. The 33-year-old, who signed as a free agent with Phoenix in the offseason, has points in six straight games. Over that span, Ribeiro has three goals and four assists. In 30 career games against the Flames, he has 10 goals and 25 points.
Recording 10 goals and 30 points in 48 games last season and having eclipsed the 40-point plateau three times in his career, big things are expected for Yandle offensively. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old defenceman has produced just two assists this season. He’s been productive against the Flames in the past, though, with six goals and 11 points in 22 career games against Calgary.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pacing the Coyotes with six assists and eight points, Hanzal has been the most productive member of the Coyotes this season. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound pivot has points in three straight heading into action Tuesday night against the Flames, too.
After a 22-game audition last season that saw Klinkhammer record 11 points, the 27-year-old has continued to roll through the first nine games this season. The former Lethbridge Hurricanes forward has three goals and five points in nine games -- four of which coming in his past four games. He’s also a team-best plus-7.
One of the league’s top blueliners, Ekman-Larsson leads Phoenix’s defence in ice time, averaging 24:39 per game -- 17th league-wide. The 22-year-old is just one goal away from matching his total through 48 games a season ago as well. In total, Ekman-Larsson has five points in nine games this year.