'Yotes set for Howl-o-Ween against the Lightning
The Phoenix Coyotes return to Jobing.com arena tonight after having undertaken a three-game roadtrip that started off rather bumpy with losses to Montreal and Ottawa, but closed out in style with a solid 4-2 win against Detroit.
Consistency, consistency, consistency. It's what the 3-3-3 Coyotes are still in the midst of seeking this season. A true test in the form of the successful Tampa Bay Lightning will come tonight, as Guy Boucher's troops come to town to face a team that, upon second glance, shares more commonalities with their opponent than one might expect, despite a much different record of 6-2-1.
New coach, new mindset, different pieces assembled from around the league whose chemistry with the pieces in place was a huge unknown, only to turn out to be a surprise success (thus far)...sound a little familiar?
While this may be the case, the Coyotes of last year have only come forth in a few glimpses this year. The Prague trip can't have helped much with that. Injuries and suspensions to key members have also come into play. Also the Lightning have an actual power play, something the Coyotes didn't have in that groundbreaking season, and are still having trouble assembling.
At any rate, it'll be interesting to see how the NHL's best offense (Tampa Bay has 320 shots on goal thus far this season, and a 3.56 goals per game average) matches up against one of the stingier defensive teams league-wide. The clubs are 13-13-0 against one another all-time, with Tampa having gained the upper hand in games at the Jobing.com arena.
To watch for both teams:
Steven Stamkos: this... is just a given at this point.
Martin St. Louis and Sean Bergenheim: each have seven takeaways.
Victor Hedman: has recorded six points to lead Tampa defensemen in scoring, and 14 blocked shots, good for second on the team.
Radim Vrbata: is poised to heat up against his ex-mates in the Lightning, a team he played 18 games for and only recorded six points in an era he'd much like to forget.
Ilya Bryzgalov: also usually a given, but most recently has come off a 43-save performance against Detroit and has made 253 saves overall (4th in the NHL) thus far this year.
Kyle Turris: had a 2 game point streak (in which he scored three goals and added one assist) snapped against the Ottawa Senators.