Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sizing up the Coyotes

The surprising Phoenix Coyotes (5-2-0), amidst an off-season of financial turmoil is currently one point out of first in the Pacific Division despite playing two games less than those teams in front of them (Los Angeles/Dallas).They do however, play in the same division of Dany Heatley, who will score 70 goals this season. Both the Red Wings and Coyotes are coming into this game well rested after a multiple day break between games.

Phoenix has been known for its ho-hum offense and thus far this season it’s been pretty much business as usual. They have a less than impressive 2.43 G/G average...only good enough to 21st in the league. Detroit's offense has struggled early on (as many pundits predicted), but has started to come together as of late. They currently have a 3.14 G/G which is has them sitting at 14th in the NHL. Advantage: Detroit

Phoenix’s defense is what has propelled them to such a great start early into this regular season. Their goalie, Ilya Bryzagalov was the NHL’s #1 star last week. The ‘Yotes have an NHL best 1.43 GA/G average. Detroit has improved slightly defensively, but are still damn near last (25th) with a less than stellar 3.43 GA/G average. Osgood was yanked from his last outing on North American soil outside of Joe Louis. Advantage: Phoenix

Phoenix’s powerplay, much like its offense, has been mediocre at best (even with the enigmatic Robert Lang in their lineup). The Coyotes are currently ranked 17th in the league, brandishing a 20.6% conversion rate. Detroit’s powerplay is not what they would like it to be as far as effectiveness. The Red Wings currently have a 28.1% conversion rate on the PP, ranking them 4th overall in the NHL. Advantage: Detroit

The old adage goes “your goalie has to be your best penalty killer”. Well, when your goalie is the #1 star in the league the second week of the season, you can bet your sweet bippy that your PK is putting up respectable numbers. Phoenix has the 9th ranked penalty kill in terms of percentage at 84.0%. Detroit’s PK has been somewhat of an Achilles heel, though as I noted in a previous post, it has been better after a disastrous start in Stockholm. Detroit is currently ranked 21st in the league, killing off 75.9% of penalties taken. Advantage: Phoenix

So if we pull ranks and take the average for GA/G and G/G...

Phoenix: 11th
Detroit: 19.5th

If you combine PK and PP percentages to get an overall effectiveness rating:

Phoenix: 104.6%
Detroit: 104.0%

Key to this game: goaltending and special teams. Hopefully, Detroit defense learned from Saturday that if you get up on a team, instead of sitting back, you need to put your skate to your opponents’ throat and press down firmly. Bryzgalov could be a headache in this one, but he’s known for being inconsistent. Bobby Lang always seems to play well against the Red Wings, so watch out for his flowing locks…wait, does he still have them? Ah, who cares?

The good news: Osgood is 5-0-0 with a 2.76 GAA in five games against Phoenix over the past two seasons. Also, the Flying Circus has absolutely murdered the ‘Yotes… Datsyuk has five goals and 23 assists in 12 games while Zetterberg has 11 goals and 10 assists in 11 games. Thanks again to CBS for some of the stats listed above.

Better get your naps in during the next few days, because we’re staying up late to watch some Red Wings hockey.or them

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