By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will host the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins tonight at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (18-15-3) will enter the game looking to rebound from a 4-3 loss at Los Angeles on Monday and to snap a recent slump on home ice; the Coyotes are 0-4-1 in December in Glendale. In an effort to accomplish the latter, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett switched the site of Wednesday's morning skate from the team's practice rink in Scottsdale to Jobing.com Arena.
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
will make his fourth consecutive start in place of injured starter Mike Smith
, who has been skating the past few days as he recovers from a lower-body injury. LaBarbera has played 152 NHL games but none against the Bruins.
In addition to Smith, the Coyotes will play minus two of their top four centers - Martin Hanzal
and Boyd Gordon
. Both are injured.
“We have to rely on other people to do some things that maybe they're not normally asked to do,” Tippett said when asked about combating the recent injuries.
The Coyotes recalled center Andy Miele from the American Hockey League on Tuesday to help fill the void at center (see PODCASTS
below). Miele was averaging nearly a point per game in the AHL when recalled. This is his second stint with the Coyotes. Earlier this season he played five games but did not notch a point.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Bruins (23-9-1) will enter the game after a four-day break and riding a six-game winning streak.
Boston has outscored its opponents, 97-36, during a 20-2-1 stretch that began on Nov. 1.
"Everyone's playing the same level as last year," forward Brad Marchand told reporters after the team’s 8-0 win over Florida on Friday. "We need to keep it going the whole year. That's the goal right now.”
The Bruins have scored 119 goals this season and given up just 63 in 33 games.
Goalie Tim Thomas is a big reason for that 56-goal differential; he leads the NHL in save percentage at .943 and his 1.84 goals-against average is tops in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, backup Tuukka Rask has posted back-to-back shutouts. Overall, Rask, who is expected to play tonight, has stopped all 82 shots he has faced in his last three appearances.
Offensively, nine players have notched at least 20 points for the Bruins. Forward Tyler Seguin is leading the way with 31.