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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes and Stars to Play for First Place on National Stage

Monday, 03.19.2012 / 6:41 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes and Dallas Stars will battle for first place in the Pacific Division standings on national television on Tuesday.

NBC Sports Network, formerly VERSUS, will broadcast the game from the American Airlines Center starting at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).

Photo by Getty Images.
Clearly it’s a huge game for both teams, but I’m not ready to declare whichever team wins a lock to finish the season as division champ. There are just too many games left and too many other teams – namely San Jose and Los Angeles – who still have a shot at winning the division title/the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Nevertheless, the winner of Tuesday’s game will gain a significant edge with the regular season’s finish line now in sight.

FYI, the Coyotes have beaten the Stars three times in a row, but the Stars have posted a 10-3-1 record since last playing – and losing to – the Coyotes on Feb. 18. With so much at stake, it promises to be a great game to watch.

• On Monday, the Coyotes posted a poll question on their Facebook page asking their fans which team in the Pacific Division they felt pose the biggest threat to Phoenix’s quest to win the division title. As of this writing, the San Jose Sharks - not the Dallas Stars - are the team most fans think the Coyotes will ultimately have to beat out. In fact, the Sharks are winning the vote in landslide fashion.

I am surprised the Los Angeles Kings, who are just one point behind Phoenix and Dallas and who are tied with San Jose in points, received so few votes in the poll - roughly three percent. Don’t count the Kings out – they’ve won four games in a row and have a game in hand on the Coyotes.

Today I am tipping my hat to…

• Head Coach Dave Tippett – for winning his 400th game on Sunday night at Edmonton. Only Detroit’s Mike Babcock has won more games (415) than Tippett since Tippett became an NHL head coach in 2002-03. ‘Nuff said.

Keith Yandle
• Defenseman Keith Yandle – for dropping the gloves and fighting Oilers forward Lennart Petrell on his first shift of Sunday’s game. Yandle has been struggling with turnovers the past few games and his decision to fight Petrell was a message to his coaches and his teammates that he’s committed to the team and to winning.

• Forward Raffi Torres – for becoming a goal-scoring machine in the third period and a real impact impact player. Torres has scored four goals in the past seven games and all were scored in the final 20 minutes. Moreover, Torres plays only 11:15 per game and yet he ranks fifth on the team with 14 goals.

• Forward Mikkel Boedker – for becoming a highly reliable shootout participant. Boedker is now 4 for 7 in shootouts this season. Boedker is using his speed to set up his shootout goals and it is working well. Click here to watch the in-arena player profile on Boedker.

• Color Analyst Tyson Nash – for being asked to serve as a guest panelist for TSN this week before returning to the Coyotes’ booth for Thursday night's home game vs. Colorado. I'm hoping he wears "The Jacket."

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
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