Phoenix Coyotes (2-4-1, 5 pts) @ Dallas Stars (2-4-1, 5 pts)
7:30 PM CT
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Like Dallas, the Coyotes have been off to a tough start this season. They have the exact same record as the Stars and have lost three of the last four games. A big part of the struggles though may be the fact that Mike Smith has been injured and only played the first two games of the season.
Smith looks like he’ll be back between the pipes tonight. Phoenix will be hoping that Smith is the cure-all for what’s been a very disappointing defense for the Coyotes so far this season. They’ve allowed at least four goals in all but one of their losses and have given up a bunch of power play goals to the opponent.
On the positive side for Phoenix, they somehow have one of the best power play units in the league (at least one PP goal in six of the first seven games).
Radim Vrbata has also played quite well and leads the team in points with seven. He’s on a four-game point streak coming into tonight. He had two goals and an assist in the first game between the two teams.
Phoenix is dealing with a good number of injuries. Matthew Lombardi has an upper body issue and will be out a month. Martin Hanzal and Steve Sullivan are both dealing with lower body injuries and are questionable to play in tonight’s game (or tomorrow’s game) while Raffi Torres is still suspended for one more game.
Defenseman Rostislav Klesa also has a lower body injury that he’s dealing with.
Possible line combos:
Korpikoski – Vermette – Doan
Boedker – Gordon – Vrbata
Moss – Chipchura – Johnson
Miele – Bolduc – Bissonnette
Yandle – Ekman-Larsson
Michalek – Morris
Rundblad – Schlemko
Dallas is coming into this weekend’s home-and-home series on a four game losing streak and just flat-out playing bad hockey. The big (get it? Get it?) news around these parts is the promotion of Jamie Oleksiak aka the BigRig.
Dallas is hoping that the hulking 6’7” 255lb stature of Oleksiak can help shore up a terrible defense that’s been getting the goalies on this team killed. It looks like Oleksiak has been seeing time in practice with Alex Goligoski, which will hopefully help Goose’s game and allow him to be a better presence on offense.
The Stars also brought up Antoine Roussel to help the team get more physical. Roussel is a tough player that loves to hit, which this team sorely needs.
The Stars need to come out tonight with some energy and passion. They’ve looked terrible in the past two games and need to shake that off quickly against a division opponent.
Kari Lehtonen gets the nod tonight for his third straight start. Derek Roy is out of this weekend series with his groin issue while Aaron Rome is still flu-ridden.
Eriksson – Benn– Jagr
Whitney – Eakin – Ryder
Morrow – Fiddler – Nystrom
Garbutt – Roussel – Smith
Dillon – Robidas
Larsen – Daley
Goligoski – Oleksiak