Carolina and Phoenix don’t play each other too often – only twice in the last three years, to be exact – so it’s easy to not notice that the Coyotes currently own a four-game winning streak over the Hurricanes.
I don’t put too much stock into that number, especially since the first game of that streak occurred in February of 2003. Nevertheless, there is some relevant history here, as Cam Ward, who should make his fourth straight start in goal for the Canes tonight, is 0-2 with a 5.39 goals-against average against Phoenix in his career.
While both teams have gone through a tough offensive stretch recently (Carolina is 19th in goals per game with 2.63, Phoenix is 25th with 2.47), if they are able to execute their game plans, Ward and the Carolina defense could be in for a tough test as they try for their first three-game win streak of the season tonight.
The way the teams have described each other leading to tonight’s game, there could be a lot of scoring chances.
Canes coach Peter Laviolette: “They’re young and they’re very aggressive. They’re extremely aggressive on the forecheck and in the neutral zone and they press a lot. When you play teams like that, you have to be on your toes yourself and you have to be skating well. If you do that, you can find some holes and hopefully exploit some things. If you don’t bring the work, you can find yourself chasing the puck a lot.”
Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, per the Arizona Republic: “They're going to really come at us, and we better be strong defensively, and if we're strong defensively, maybe we'll create some turnovers and get some opportunities. But they're definitely going to throw everything at us. They don't hold back."
Although the Canes only scored two goals in their most recent game against Montreal, Laviolette actually felt very good about the team’s offensive performance, saying that Canadiens goalie Carey Price and the Montreal defense had more to do with the low goal total than anything the Canes were doing wrong.
“I certainly would take a duplicate of the last game where we had 90 attempts at the net,” said Laviolette, adding together the 48 shots on goal, 25 blocked attempts and 18 missed shots to get that total. “Anytime you have 90 attempts at the net, you think you’re going to win a hockey game. Between blocked shots and missed shots and the actual shots that hit the net – I’m not as concerned about offense”
Random stats: Unfortunately, Cane-killer Olli Jokinen (52 points in 50 games) is now a member of the Coyotes and will play tonight. He has 17 points in 17 games this season …While Dennis Seidenberg ranks fourth in the NHL with 54 blocked shots, Phoenix’s Zbynek Michalek is first with 59 … Phoenix has lost three straight, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago in their last game … Mikkel Boedker, one of two players on the Coyotes’ roster drafted in the first round this past summer (forward Viktor Tikhonov is the other), leads all rookie forwards in average ice time per game (17:54).