The Phoenix Coyotes are 7-1-2 over their last ten games and are arguably the hottest team in the NHL. The Yotes look to close in on the franchise record of nine-straight wins in a row when they take on the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes have stopped hurting themselves by taking bad penalties, Coyotes’ goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is on top of his game and the Coyotes are the healthiest they have been all season.
“I think we were undisciplined”, said Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal. “If we don’t take penalties we have a better chance to win games and when we started doing that we started winning games, it was pretty easy.”
After their first five games of the season the Coyotes were taking an average of five penalties per game. Since then the Yotes are tied for third in the league in times short handed per game (77 times all year).
Bryzgalov, who is again having another Veniza candidate type season, is the biggest reason especially early on for the Yotes success. Bryzgalov stopped all 23 shots Tuesday to earn his first shutout of the season in a 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. He has won six straight game and has allowed two goals or less in three of his last four starts.
“We have started to find our game and we’re continuing to work hard,” said Bryzgalov. Points are very valuable right now. If you see the standings it’s very tight, everyone is close to each other.”
Early on the Yotes struggles could be contributed to injuries and suspensions. Winger Ray Whitney who has battled hand and wrist injuries, has said that he deferred shooting the puck because the pain was unbearable. Coyotes captain Shane Doan was suspended for three games and then missed several games with a lower back injury. Hanzal also missed time with a lower-body injury. Ed Jovanovski is likely to return to the lineup tonight after he missed Tuesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. While fellow defensemen Adrian Aucoin is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
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Written by Robb Patty