By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to snap out of a funk tonight when they host the Minnesota Wild at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (25-19-9) has lost two games in a row since the NHL resumed play after the All-Star break. The Coyotes were outscored 11-3 in those losses to San Jose and Vancouver and have slipped to eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
The Coyotes worked on defense and puck management at practices the past two days, and Head Coach Dave Tippett has instructed the players to make sure they approach this game with a playoff-game mentality.
“Our mindset is very business-like (and) very workman-like, and that’s what it needs to be right now,” Tippett said after Friday’s practice.
is expected to make his 12th consecutive start in goal for the Coyotes, who have lost five home games in a row. Bryzgalov is 1-4-0 in his past five starts and has posted a .886 save percentage in that span.
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski
, who missed Wednesday’s game vs. Vancouver because of an upper-body injury, practiced Friday and may play tonight. Center Vernon Fiddler
, who has missed the past eight games because of an upper-body injury, also practiced on Friday but will not play. Tippett said Fiddler is getting close to day-to-day status. The Coyotes have posted a 2-6-0 record in the eight games Fiddler has missed.
|Photo by Getty Images.
“I definitely want to get back in here and contribute, and I think when I’m healthy I can do that,” Fiddler said.” It’s just a couple of minor things that we’re doing (wrong). We’ve gone through it before, even last year we did it a bit, but it’s only going to make us stronger in the long run.”
Minnesota (27-19-5) has won six of its past seven games and is climbing the Western Conference standings. The Wild, who have beaten the Coyotes two out of three times this season, will enter the game in seventh place.
Niklas Backstrom likely will be in goal for the Wild after watching backup Jose Theodore play Thursday’s game vs. Colorado. Minnesota set a franchise record in that game by scoring twice within the first 61 seconds. It was the quickest that Minnesota, which is celebrating its 10th NHL season, scored two goals to open a game.
The Wild is 16-9-3 since center Pierre-Marc Bouchard made his season debut on Dec. 1.
Fans heading to the game should allow extra travel time because of road work near Jobing.com Arena on Loop 101. Click here