Hanzal returns for tilt with Predators
A welcome face will be suiting up tonight for the Phoenix Coyotes for the first time in 6 games. Center Martin Hanzal, having been sidelined by a lower body injury, is now set to face the Nashville Predators tonight at the Jobing.com arena, where a team with a 3-1-0 road record faces off against a 1-2-2 at home squad. Nashville just lost their first road game against Detroit on Saturday while Phoenix also dropped their last game by a shutout of 3-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Several key members of the Coyotes, including captain Shane Doan, are still looking for their first goals of the season. Phoenix has also gone without a single power play marker at home. These factors have contributed to what is now the second-worst offense league-wide (2.3 goals per game) and being blanked out against Tampa has no doubt aggravated their desire to fix that situation.
Unfortunately, Nashville's strongest asset appears to be their goaltending. Pekka Rinne has a .928 save percentage and has faced an average minimum of thirty-plus shots per game.
Fortunately, the same applies to Phoenix. Ilya Bryzgalov has stopped 205 of 220 shots against him at this point in the season in another great start for the Coyotes.
The last time Nashville and Phoenix faced off, it was a testament to those two: a scoreless regulation followed by a scoreless overtime, eventually capped off by an Adrian Aucoin goal to win the shootout (by the by, he's also one of those guys that hasn't scored his first goal of the season just yet).
This game would have another storyline if all members were healthy. Matthew Lombardi, signed by the Predators via free agency this summer, is still suffering the effects of a concussion. He would have played against his old team for the first time after playing just shy of a hundred games with them.
To watch for both teams (who aren't the goaltenders):
Steve Sullivan: is always a threat against the Coyotes, with 33 points in 38 games against them thus far. He already has 4 goals and 3 assists this season to lead the Predators.
Shea Weber: the Preds' captain is seventh in the hits' category leaguewide with 28.
Scottie Upshall: leads the team with 32 shots on goal.
Shane Doan: one of the top forwards in need of some production. My semi-bold prediction is that he'll be one to step up and lead the team in this game.