As I type this, the Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks are tied (2-2) at the second intermission. In the season series with the Coyotes, the Ducks are 3-0 while outscoring the Coyotes 12-6. The Ducks sit at first in the Pacific Division while the Coyotes are fifth hanging on to the last Wild Card position.
Keys to the Game: The Coyotes will be without their captain and goal scoring leader Shane Doan who is on IR. Since losing Doan, the Coyotes have been in somewhat of a scoring slump with the odd offensive explosion (i.e. a 6-3 win over the Islanders on Dec. 12). The Ducks will need to take advantage of this slump and avoid playing catch up like they have in the past few games.
Although the Coyotes are a Wild Card team in the Western Conference, they are nine games over .500 and have 45 points. Phoenix has a great group of defensemen that can shut down a team quickly when they have a lead. The Ducks will need to watch out for players like Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson who can be just as much of a threat on offense.
What Can We Learn From This Game?: We'll see how the Ducks do after being away from the ice for three days. Hopefully the time off has helped heal any injuries that the team was getting over. Being home for the first time since Dec. 15 is exciting for both the players and fans. It seems that the Ducks have been on the road all season (because they have – Home Games: 15 Road Games: 24).
The best part about getting back to Honda Center after this road trip is that the Ducks will not make any more trips to the East Coast. While the Ducks have been great on the road, expect the team to take advantage of the home schedule in the second half of the season as well.
Fearless Prediction: The Ducks win with all the goals coming from defensemen.
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.