By Dave Vest The Coyotes will continue their four-game stretch at Atlantic Division teams tonight when they play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
Jason LaBarbera will start in goal tonight for the Coyotes against the team that selected him with the 66th overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. LaBarbera (2-3-0, 3.08 goals-against average) played only five games for the Rangers before being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in 2005.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Ilya Bryzgalov has the flu and will not dress tonight. Instead, the Coyotes will dress emergency amateur goaltender Tom Fenton as LaBarbera's backup. Fenton played college hockey at AIC (American International College) in Springfield, Mass. In four seasons with the Yellow Jackets, he played in 81 career games and posted a 14-51 record with a 3.87 GAA. Fenton is also involved with multiple hockey schools throughout his native Ontario. Prior to his collegiate career he played for the Milton Ice Hawks (OPJHL) in 2004-05. Before that he played for the WOJHL's Petrolia Jets from 2002-04, helping the Jets to the league title in 2002-03 and was named Playoff MVP; he was also named team MVP both years.
Phoenix (14-9-6) began the trek with a 3-0 loss to New Jersey on Wednesday night. Both teams took 29 shots on goal, but Devils goalie Martin Brodeur stopped all that he faced while Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov let three get past him.
Photo by Getty Images.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett was upset by the loss and labeled many of his players “passengers.” Captain Shane Doan also was not impressed with his team’s effort.
"It's a little disappointing when you have a team that's struggling like that, and we let them come out and take control,” Doan said. “They were a desperate team and we gave them life by allowing the two early goals. They were able to feed off that."
The Rangers (19-13-1) also played a road game on Wednesday and earned a 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
That was the good news for New York. The bad news is forward Ryan Callahan, the team’s second-leading scorer, suffered a fractured hand in that victory and is out for approximately six weeks.
“I'm not going to sit here and pretend,” Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella told reporters. “That's a big loss to us."
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in Wednesday’s game. Should he play again tonight he will look to remain unbeaten against Phoenix. in three career starts, Lundqvist is 3-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA vs. the Coyotes.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan has notched nine points (three goals, six assists) in the 10 games he has played since returning from injury on Nov. 21.
Rangers center Brian Boyle scored his 12th goal of the season on Wednesday. Boyle already has tripled his career-high for goals in one season (four).
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney spent 10 seasons as a member of the Rangers front office before joining the Coyotes in 2007. The Rangers selected Maloney with the 26th overall pick of the 1978 NHL Entry Draft, and he played 11 seasons for New York. Meanwhile, three current Coyotes - Lauri Korpikoski, Jason LaBarbera and Derek Morris - also are former Rangers.
The Coyotes have killed 22 of their opponents' 25 power plays in the six games they've played in December. That's 88 percent.
This game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on KFNN-AM 1510 (AM). A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at phoenixcoyotes.com at 5 p.m.
"We have a busy schedule now through the early part of 2011. If we can just keep our head above water (on this trip) and stay with the pack, I think the schedule favors us as we get down to the second half of the season. So, this is an important time for us."