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Ducks vs. Coyotes Preview: Home Sweet Home At Last

After 15 days on the East coast and five wins out of a possible eight, the Ducks finally return to Honda Center to play host to an all-too-familiar foe in the Phoenix Coyotes.

Jeff Gross

Keys to the Game: Even though the team is finally home, they haven't had much of a chance to rest. One day off and the boys are right back at it. It's almost like the previous road trip extended except the boys get to sleep in their own beds. The biggest key is going to be keeping that energy up because odds are they'll probably still be a little short on it.

However, they're undefeated at home and they've fed off the energy in the building in nearly every game before.

The big-guns from Phoenix have developed into a nice pack of Duck-killers, making strong defense a critical necessity tonight. And lest we forget they added possibly the biggest Duck-killer of them all in the offseason: a guy named Mike Ribeiro who has 45 points in 43 games against Anaheim.

Likewise they're getting offense from all around their lineup much like Anaheim, only it extends into their defense as well. In fact, out of the seven players who have at least 10 points for the Coyotes this season, three of them are defensemen. The Ducks wingers in particular will have to be extremely aware if they want to have any hope of shutting down the elite offensive-defense duo of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle.

What Can We Learn From this Game: The Ducks just took five wins out of a possible eight from the Eastern Conference. They're back out West now and face a Phoenix team that very quietly has posted a pretty good season thus far. They're currently in third place in the division and are just one point back of the Ducks with the same number of games played. Much like Anaheim, Phoenix is one of only three teams that is yet to lose in regulation in their own building (San Jose is the other).

Phoenix has won five straight contests and they're actually one point better than Anaheim over their last 10 games as well, going 7-1-2 to Anaheim's 7-2-1.

In addition, each of their last three wins have come in the shootout, including a victory last night in Phoenix over another division rival in the Vancouver Canucks.

Make no mistake about it this Coyotes team is here and are they ever playing well.

The two teams have met once already this season, and it took some persistence and a pretty huge stroke of luck for the Ducks.

Nick Bonino lobs it in the net (via NHL)

Yeah, remember that one? The Ducks shouldn't have even gotten a point out of that game, let alone the two they did.

Here's the thing though: Mike Smith is a good goaltender and the odds of that kind of a goal happening again are pretty slim at best. Should the Ducks find themselves down like that again I'm pretty sure the hockey gods won't be so favorable this time.

One- they're a division rival; two- they're good, and three- they're angry. You want a tough test for this Ducks team who once again has people questioning how "for real" they are? This is a pretty good one.

Fearless Prediction: Aside from a mere mention on the league scoreboard, the NHL does not even acknowledge this game even exists. The Ducks have to pull random people from the audience to referee the game out of pure emergency after the league forgets to schedule them, making these lucky fans the first true "paying officials" in NHL history.

Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in-game comments to flow.