After a short two-game home stand, the Anaheim Ducks are 16-6-3 and head out for a short two-game road trip with stops in Phoenix and Dallas. The Coyotes are 14-4-4 and undefeated in regulation at home. The Ducks will have to have a strong road game if they want to be the first team to win in the desert (in regulation).
Keys to the Game: This is the second game of back-to-backs for the Ducks, and they will have to jump on the Coyotes early to avoid playing a tight game late. The defense will have to have a good showing. With Francois Beauchemin day-to-day with an upper-body injury, either Sami Vatanen or Mark Fistric will be in the lineup to replace him [Ed. Note: likely Fistric, since he acquitted himself well enough last night vs. Tampa]. The Ducks have managed to have strong defensive efforts in the past two games, but the team will have to start heating up in the offensive end if they hope to get past the Coyotes.
The Coyotes will be rested on home ice. Expect Phoenix to start Mike Smith in net, as he has had a great start to his season. The Ducks should watch out for "resident Duck killer" Mike Ribeiro along with Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. The Coyotes play a more defensive game and rely on their transition game to score goals. Unlike seasons past, the Coyotes are near the top of the league in goals per game (3.27 4th in the NHL) and prove to be an offensive and defensive threat.
What Can We Learn From This Game?: Will the Ducks be able to pull through after a tiring game against the Tampa Bay Lightning? The Ducks have had a few back-to-back games this season and have shown signs of wear in the third period of the second game. If the Ducks want to stay in the top-3 of the Pacific Division they will have to be able to continue their dominance of the Coyotes.
Jonas Hiller had an amazing performance last night. If Andersen is not called up, Hiller may start his second game in as many nights. Regardless of weather Hiller plays against Phoenix, let's hope that his stellar play continues in the absence of a healthy Viktor Fasth.
Fearless Prediction: The Ducks free Sami Vatanen and he lights up Mike Smith for his first career hat trick.
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