By Anthony Perez | Dave Vest
The Coyotes will play the first of a six-game stretch of road games tonight against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
While the Devils have won just eight of 29 games, Head Coach Dave Tippett knows the Coyotes cannot take them lightly.
“New Jersey is a team that has great tradition,” Tippett said. “(It's a) solid franchise, and I don’t think things have gone like they had hoped this year, so with every game that’s a team that’s looking to turn things around.”
|Photo by Getty Images.
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris
believes the Devils are capable of breaking out at any time.
“They’re struggling a little bit, but they’re underachieving,” Morris said. “When things don’t go well it kind of snowballs, so they’re a dangerous team that can go out there and hurt you at any time, and obviously they’ve got great goaltending so we’re going to have to throw a lot of pucks at (Devils goaltender Martin) Brodeur, a lot of pucks at his feet and hope to find a way to get rebounds.”
The Coyotes (14-8-6), who are coming off a 5-2 win over Dallas at home last Saturday, realize that winning the first game is a great way to start a long trip.
“We’re just prepared for good, hard road games,” forward Scottie Upshall
said. “And we know if we play a good, tight, solid group game like we played against Dallas, against Anaheim... I think we’re going to be in the driver’s seat.”
is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes. He has faced New Jersey just once in his career - a 4-3 win last season in Glendale.
The Devils (8-19-2) are in 14th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey’s prized free agent acquisition over the summer, is third on the team in scoring with five goals and nine assists.
Brodeur is once again the starting goalie in New Jersey, and after missing nearly a month due to injury, he returned on Dec. 10 has given up seven goals in two games. Brodeur has posted a 4-12-1 record in 19 games with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage. He will enter tonight's game having won 606 career NHL games.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
said it’s always fun competing against an elite goalie such as Brodeur.
“You always remember when you get a chance to play against guys that are going to the Hall of Fame,” Doan said. “He’s got the most wins ever. He’s got a lot of hardware to go along with that, and he’s an incredible goalie. So, it’s always fun to play against those guys and say you got to play against them.”
New Jersey enters tonight’s game rested, three days after dropping a 4-1 decision to Detroit at home last Saturday for its fifth consecuitve loss.
"It's tough," Devils forward Patrik Elias told reporters. "We try to come into every game with a good mindset. Even if it's really hard, we believe that this is the day, this is the game that we're going to turn it around. It's even more frustrating when we do feel like we're playing OK and we're just not getting the points."
Tonight's game is being televised on Fox Sports Arizona Plus. Click here
for channel information.