By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will play their first home game of 2011 tonight when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
It will be Phoenix’s first appearance on home ice since it scored a season-high six goals in a 6-3 win over Los Angeles on Dec. 29. Since then, the Coyotes (17-13-8) have lost back-to-back road games at St. Louis and Minnesota.
will start in goal tonight for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov is 1-2-0 with a .861 save percentage in the three games he has played since coming back from an upper-body injury he suffered on Dec. 15 vs. New Jersey.
“I think he’s got to get back to that attitude where he’s going to compete hard on every shot and believes he’s going to stop every shot,” Coyotes Goaltending Coach Sean Burke said.
Meanwhile, Coyotes captain Shane Doan
will look to continue his six-game scoring streak.
“We’ve got to get back to being better in our own zone and spending more time down low,” said Doan, whom the NHL named its No. 2 Star of the Week on Monday. “We’ll be OK if we just get back to keeping it simple."
► Click here
to watch an interview Doan did with NHL Network on Monday.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle
and winger Ray Whitney
, a former Blue Jacket, also have been contributing lately. Yandle has notched seven points in the past four games while Whitney has chipped in five points in the past four games.
Tonight’s game will be the first of four matches between these teams. Phoenix went 3-1-0 against the Blue Jackets last season and outscored Columbus 11-6 in those games.
The Blue Jackets (20-16-3) will enter the game just two points behind No. 8 Colorado in the Western Conference standings. The Coyotes are three points behind the Avs, whom they will play on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.
Columbus, which ranks next to last in the NHL in power-play efficiency (12.2 percent), has lost eight of its past nine road games.
Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason has started the last four games. Should he start tonight, he will be seeking his first career victory over Phoenix. So far he’s 0-4-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average against the Coyotes.