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Maurice makes Jets coaching debut against Coyotes

by Eric Goodman /

COYOTES (21-14-9) at JETS (19-23-5)


Last 10: Phoenix 3-4-3; Winnipeg 3-3-4

Season series: This is the first of three games this season. The teams split the 2011-12 season series with the Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets each winning a game at their home arena.

Big story: Newly appointed Jets coach Paul Maurice will make his debut in Winnipeg after the team fired coach Claude Noel and assistant Perry Pearn on Sunday. Winnipeg will try to break out of a five-game losing streak when it hosts a Coyotes team that is 1-1-3 in its past five road games.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix lost four of six games on its recent homestand while being outscored 16-7. The penalty-killing unit hasn't been up to par with five power-play goals surrendered on opponents' past 13 chances. The Coyotes will try to avoid a three-game losing streak after losses to the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks this past week knocked them out of a playoff position.

Though the Coyotes managed to gain eight out of a possible 12 points to close out December, captain Shane Doan had a different point of view following a 5-3 loss to the Ducks on Saturday.

"Right now, we're not very good, and we haven't been very good for a while," Doan said. "We've been fooling ourselves with finding ways to come back and get points."

Jets: The hiring of Maurice brings a wealth of NHL coaching experience and a new perspective to a team that has struggled to find consistency. The Jets' highest point so far was a 10-9-2 record Nov. 15. Winnipeg was 26th in the NHL with a 3.00 goals-against average and 25th with a 15 percent showing on the power play when Noel and Pearn were fired, so Maurice faces a tough challenge.

Maurice has been successful as an NHL coach before, leading the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 and to an Eastern Conference Final in 2009 during his second stint with the team. The Jets' new bench boss is looking forward to the game Monday, which will mark his first time coaching an NHL team since November 2011.

"I'm thrilled to be joining a first-class organization in Winnipeg and very happy to be back on an NHL bench," Maurice told TSN on Sunday.

Who's hot: Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata has five assists in his past three games. ... Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has three goals and three assists in his past five games and played on the top forward line Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Injury report: Phoenix efenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) is on injured reserve. ... Jets left wing Evander Kane (hand) is questionable. Defensemen Paul Postma (lower body) and Grant Clitsome (illness) are out, as is center Jim Slater (sports hernia surgery) and right wing Matt Halischuk (right forearm surgery).

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