COYOTES (6-3-0) at RANGERS (7-3-1)
First of two meetings this season between these teams. The Rangers came away with a 4-1 victory against the Coyotes in their only matchup last season.
Can the Coyotes keep their solid start going? And can the Rangers get out of a funk that's seen them lose three in a row?
L.A. snapped the Coyotes' four-game winning streak with a 5-3 victory Saturday. Overall it's been a surprisingly effective start to the season, but coach Dave Tippett wasn't happy with his team's performance against the Kings.
"We made some mental mistakes that come back to haunt you," Tippett told the Arizona Republic. "You can't give up four goals (the fifth was an empty-netter). Mental mistakes led to power-play goals against. We just need everybody on board every night. We had some guys that I didn't think pulled their weight tonight."
It was rainbows and lollipops during the Rangers' seven-game winning streak. But coach John Tortorella has seen that all change in the past three games, all losses. He even went as far as benching Brandon Dubinsky
and Christopher Higgins for the third period and OT after a handful of crucial mistakes led to Montreal goals Saturday.
"The game's going our way, and it's a turnover in the neutral zone by Dubie that just can't happen," Tortorella told the Daily News. "We stressed that, especially after the last game. It's just a huge momentum swing.
"Higgy is a guy that I think we've been patient with. It's a penalty that puts us down 5-on-3, but the backcheck on the goal where we get beat up the ice -- if you're not helping us offensively, you need to do the other things. There has to be some consequences to this. We're going to go with the guys that are doing the things to help win the hockey game."
Who's Hot --
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
has 3 goals and 4 assists in the last four games. Besides the obvious choice in Marian Gaborik
(points in every game but one this season), Rangers right wing Ales Kotalik has two goals in his last two games.
Injury Report --
Coyotes defenseman Kurt Sauer
has an upper-body injury and his status for Monday night is up in the air. The only dinged-up Ranger is Donald Brashear, who is dealing with soreness issues.
Stat Pack --
Coming off his worst season in the NHL, Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is 6-2-0, leads the League in goals-against average (1.60) and is third in save percentage (.933) among goalies with at least two starts. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi
is minus-6 in his last five games.
Puck Drop --
After a summer of turmoil, the Coyotes are letting their play on the ice become the real story. The players seem to be buying into Tippett's system, and this game against the high-flying Rangers should provide a real test.
On the flip side, the Rangers have allowed 16 goals in their last three games after allowing 15 in their first eight games. They need to start taking care of business in their own end in order to halt this losing streak.
-- Dave Lozo, NHL.com