By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will begin a challenging and critical three-game homestand tonight when they play the Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (33-23-10) will enter the game in seventh place in the Western Conference standings and looking to snap a five-game winless streak (0-4-1). Vancouver and Calgary will follow Detroit into Glendale next week.
► Click here
to see the standings for both conferences.
Tonight's game will be the fourth and final game between the Coyotes and Red Wings this season. Phoenix has earned four of a possible six points in the season series (1-0-2). The teams last played Nov. 8 at Joe Louis Arena.
is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov is 1-0-2 vs. Detroit this season with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.
Phoenix’s last three losses have all been by one goal. Poor play on special teams has fueled the team’s slump, which started after an eight-game winning streak. The Coyotes have allowed 10 power-play goals in the past five games and are just 2 for 16 with a man-advantage in the same span.
The Coyotes are hoping center Martin Hanzal
is healthy enough to return to the lineup after he missed Thursday’s game because of a lower-body injury. Hanzal didn’t practice Friday.
Winger Brett MacLean likely will be in the lineup after being recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday (see PODCASTS
below). MacLean has scored 74 goals in the AHL over the past two-plus seasons, including 23 this season.
Detroit (39-19-7) will enter this game looking to close a five-game trip with a victory. The Red Wings are 2-1-1 thus far on their trek, but they lost to San Jose, 3-1, in their most recent game on Thursday.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Playing road games has not been problematic for Detroit this season. Their 22 road wins lead the Western Conference and are tied for most in the NHL with Boston.
Detroit leads the NHL in goals scored with 215, and ranks fifth in power-play efficiency (21.4 percent) and fifth in faceoff percentage (51.6).
"They're always recognized for the high skill they have, but they're one of the hardest-working teams in the league,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said (see PODCASTS
below). “If you're not willing to work going into it, you're going to be behind, so that will be our focus."
Red Wings forward Johan Franzen hasn't scored a goal since Feb. 2 when he notched five in a game vs. Ottawa.