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The New Pacific Preview: Phoenix Coyotes

New owner, same Coyotes + Mike Ribeiro

Lookout Coyotes, we still have Cogliano!
Lookout Coyotes, we still have Cogliano!
Christian Petersen

2013 Stats

Record: 21-18-9, 51 pts (10th West), vs Ducks 3-1-0 (2 shootout wins)

Leading Scorers: If ever you needed an indication as to what kind of team Phoenix is offensively, it's that Defenseman Keith Yandle lead the team in scoring last year with 30 points (10-20-30). For reference, the Ducks' highest scoring defenseman last year was Francois Beauchemin (oh, how the times have changed) who came in sixth on the team with 24 points. Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette shared the team lead in goals with a baker's dozen each.

Yandle (1-3-4), Oliver Ekman-Larssen (0-4-4) and Radim Verbata (3-1-4) led the charge against the Ducks last year with four points each and Verbata's hat trick in the final game of the season made him the Coyotes' leading goal scorer versus Anaheim. Another indication of how the Coyotes manage their offense is that 16 different players recorded points for Phoenix last year against the Ducks, including twitter pioneer Paul Bissonnette.

Goalies: Mike Smith was, and is, the clear number one goalie in Phoenix, appearing in 34 games with a record of 15-12-5, a 2.58 Goals Against Average and .910 Save Percentage. Smith won both of his games versus Anaheim in wild shootouts, with an ugly .879 Sv% and four goals against in each game.

Jason LaBarbera (10-4-6, 2.64 GAA, .923 Sv%) played the other two games last year against the Ducks, going 1-1 with a .942 Sv% while giving up one and three goals respectively. However, LaBarbera is now in Edmonton, and Smith will be backed up by former San Jose Shark Tomas Greiss (1-4-0, 2.53 GAA, .915 Sv%), who lost in his only head to head appearance against the Ducks last year giving up two goals on 30 shots.

Power Play: Phoenix was 25th in the league on the PP last year, converting on only 14.8% of their chances and only capitalized on one against the Ducks. Yandle led the 'Yotes in PP Goals with 5, including the lone extra man tally against the Ducks.

Penalty Kill: Surprisingly the Coyotes struggled on the PK as well, killing off only 79.9% of their penalties, good for 22nd in the League. Against the Ducks they went 7-for-10 (aka 70%) but Verbata's shorty (one of two on the season for the 'Yotes) came against the Ducks.

Key Additions: The biggest offseason move the Coyotes made was to bring in UFA center Mike Ribeiro. After spending six years in Dallas and last season in Washington, Ribeiro is back to torment the Pacific Division again. There was some debate around these parts as to whether the Ducks should have brought Ribeiro in at the deadline or in free agency to plug the 2C hole. Well, so much for that. He's a Coyote now and just about the perfect addition to a team used to scoring by committee. He was slightly above point per game pace last year with the Caps. That is bound to fall somewhat on a much more defensively minded Phoenix team, but one would expect Ribeiro to usurp Yandle as the team's scoring leader this season, if healthy.

My first reaction to the move from LaBarbera to Greiss in the backup goalie role was that it would be an upgrade. Based on their career numbers (LaBarbera: .908 Sv%, 2.84 GAA; Greiss: .912 Sv%, 2.52 GAA) it does seem like a slight upgrade, but there is a rather large caveat that Greiss has played less than half the number of games as LaBarbera, despite being only two years younger. In reality however, it shouldn't make too much of a difference, considering this team will sink or swim on the back of Mike Smith anyway.

For Phoenix fans, and anyone who follows league news, the best addition is that of a real owner in the Ice Arizona group, headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc. After four years of Jim Balsillie, Judge Redfield T. Baum, the Goldwater Institute and Glendale City Council Meetings the saga is finally over (for at least five years or until the team loses $50 million).

Key Losses: Of the, now former Coyotes, the three who will be missed most statistically are Boyd Gordon (4-10-14, signed with Edmonton as UFA), Steve Sullivan (5-7-12, UFA still available, may retire?) and Raffi Torres (4-7-12, traded to San Jose at the deadline). However, Ribeiro should be able to make up for most of those numbers by himself and counterbalance the loss of Torres' shit-disturbery, if not his recklessness.

Season Series:

Fri. Oct. 18 vs. Phoenix 7:00 pm, Fox Sports West

Wed. Nov. 6 vs. Phoenix 7:00 pm, Fox Sports West

Sat. Nov. 23 @ Phoenix 5:00 pm, Prime Ticket

Sat. Dec. 28 vs. Phoenix 5:00 pm, KDOC

Sat. Jan. 11 @ Phoenix 5:00 pm, Prime Ticket