Edmonton (8-2-2) vs Phoenix (6-4-2)
Where: Jobing.com Arena
Listen: 630 Ched
Projected Line Combinations
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Paajarvi - Belanger - Gagner
Petrell - Lander - Eager
Can't see any changes upfront. Coming off a game in which the team finally got some production from their bottom six, look for the kids to rebound with a strong game. It's a Hockey Night In Canada game, should mean another first star performance for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Gilbert - Smid
Potter - Petry
Peckham - Teubert
This group was solid against the Kings on Thursday night and with Cam Barker banged up, don't expect any changes. Rookie Colten Teubert was very good in his debut and I absolutely love the physical side of his game. He doesn't go out of his way to find it but if the opportunity presents itself, he takes it. Anyone care to guess how many shots Smid will block tonight?
Nothing firm on who is starting but you would think that Devan Dubnyk will get the call. His last start was just over a week ago against Colorado and with three games in four nights nest week, they will need both guys ready. Also, when you consider all the off ice issues that Nikolai Khabibulin had to deal with in Phoenix over the last couple of years, a night off for the veteran might be a good idea.
- When Ilya Bryzgalov decided to leave Phoenix to become a Philadelphia Flyer, the Coyotes went out and acquired Mike Smith to be their starter for the 2011-2012 season. So far, Smith has been great posting a 5-2-2 record with a 2.40 GAA and a .927 SV% and has been a lot better then I was expecting. Smith has a big supporter in head coach Dave Tippett, who had the goalie back in Dallas when he was Marty Turco's under study. That being said, don't be surprised to see Jason LeBarbera get the call against he Oilers tonight. The former Los Angeles Kings netminder has a career 5-0-0 record against Edmonton with a microscopic1.22 GAA and an impressive .959 SV%.
- Veteran Ray Whitney just keeps plugging along. The diminutive winger has been on fire so far this season with 12 points in as many games and leads the Coyotes in both goals and assists. The Fort Saskatchewan native has had a wonderful career and obviously still has some gas left in the tank. Whitney almost always does something of note when he plays his hometown team and I wouldn't bet on that trend reversing tonight.
- While it seems like we have been hearing about Oliver Ekman-Larsson for years, he was only drafted back in 2009. The 20 year old defenceman apparently needed those two years to adjust to the NHL because if the early returns this season are any indication, the Coyotes may very well turnout to be one of the best D men in the game. The Swedish blueliner is an absolute joy to watch and even at his young age, seems to rarely make a mistake. Often compared to a young Niklas Lidstrom, it appears that those comparisons have some merit. The youngster plays a very calm and poised game, much like the Red Wings legend, and does have the ability to put points on the board. With Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle both in the mix, Phoenix looks to be set on the back end for years to come.
- The Coyotes fourth line features two former Oilers on the wing in Raffi Tirres and Patrick O'Sullivan. Torres has been his usual streaky self, scoring his two goals in back-to-back games and has done little else in Phoenix's other ten games. While O'Sullivan has played only seven games this season, he continues to be a goals against machine as he already sits with a -3 rating on the season. It's too bad that he has never been able to put it together at the NHL level. He has high end skill and a sick shot but seems incapable of doing the little things that are necessary for all players, that want to be successful at this level.