Preview Game 52: Phoenix Coyotes @ Dallas Stars

Phoenix Coyotes (24-21-8, 56 pts) @ Dallas Stars (27-22-2, 56 pts)

7:30 PM CT, February 7, 2012

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Dallas gets another taste of division play tonight (their third in four games this month) as the invisible Phoenix Coyotes come into town. The Coyotes are, of course, the only team in the league that has a worse average attendence than the Stars (though the attendence in Dallas has been solid since the price changes. Sell-out last game!). Both Phoenix and Dallas sit two points of the last spot in the playoffs so needless to say, tonight is a huge game.

Dallas is continuing its up and down season, alternating wins and losses in its last three games. They outlasted the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout win on Saturday. Kari Lehtonen has been back in his early season form, winning his last three games and stopping 93 of 96 shots.

Traditionally the matchups have been very close between these two teams so he’ll be integral again tonight. Lehtonen might have some bad memories though of the last time these two teams played back in Novermber. Lehtonen suffered a groin injury in that game that kept him out of the lineup for a month.

The only injury for Dallas is Brenden Morrow, who is dealing with neck and back problems for the second time this season. He should miss the next week of games. They also made a move yesterday by sending Adam Pardy down to the AHL for a “conditioning assignment.” All that means is more time for Mark Fistric and Philip Larsen. They expect Pardy back for Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets.

Lehtonen will be the starter in net tonight.


more after the jump


Phoenix enters tonight’s game on the latter night of a back-to-back. They beat the Jimmy Howardless Red Wings 3-1 last night. A back-to-back would usually mean good things for Dallas but the Coyotes probably won’t be as tired as one would expect. The game last night was the end of a six game home stand for the Yotes. They haven’t had to leave their home confines since Jan. 19 and have the benefit of the All-Star break in between those games.

The Coyotes have won three of their last four games but haven’t been any good on the road lately (though lately is relative as they haven’t had a road game in a while). Dating back to Dec. 26, Phoenix has lost eight of its last nine road games. Mike Smith has lost five road games in a row, though four of them were in overtime or shootouts.

Martin Hanzal has been hot lately with three goals and five points in his last three games. In his last 14 games against Dallas, he only has three assists though.

Phoenix will be without defender David Schlemko, who is out for the rest of the season after having foot surgery.

Smith has started 13 of the last 14 games for Phoenix. The last time he sat was on the latter night of a back-to-back, like this game. Tonight is a big division game though, so I would expect Smith to be in net tonight and not backup Jason Labarbera.

Notes and thoughts:

  • Dallas is 15-9-2 at home this year. Phoenix is 12-11-4 on the road.
  • Dallas has quite shockingly scored a power-play goal in three straight games (3 of 7). The three goal scorers: Ribeiro, Ott and Robidas. It’s the longest streak for Dallas this season since a similar three game stretch back in the beginning of November.
  • Lehtonen has won both of the games that he started and finished against Phoenix this season. He played only five minutes in the third game before getting and was replaced by Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft allowed three goals and took the loss. Lehtonen is 4-1-2 against Phoenix in the last two seasons.
  • In B2B situations this season, Phoenix is 4-3-1. They’ve only had a home-to-road situation once this season and lost 3-2 to the Avalanche.
  • The Coyotes’ special teams in these situations: 1 of 17 (6%) on the power-play and 20 of 23 (87%) on the penalty-kill.
  • Phoenix has allowed a power-play goal in its last three games (6 of 9, 67%).

Previous games:

  • October 10 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 2 – Phoenix 1 (SO)
  • October 25 at Arena: Dallas 3 – Phoenix 2 (SO)
  • November 26 at Arena: Dallas 0 – Phoenix 3

Series Stats:

 Dallas Phoenix
Goals per game 1.67 2
Shots per game 29 38.3
Hits per game 26 23.3
PIM per game 9 9.67
Power Play 1 of 11 (9%) 2 of 12 (17%)
Penalty Kill 10 of 12 (83%) 10 of 11 (91%)