Capitals-Coyotes preview

My last post focused on the Capitals struggles against teams from the Western Conference and how this would be a good time to get over those struggles to help gain some points on the Lightning. It all starts tonight with their game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Caps played the Coyotes well at home last year and beat them 4-2 but Phoenix’s team is a bit different from how it was then. They run a similar system under Dave Tippet but the make-up of the team is a little different this year.

What hasn’t changed is that a lot of their offense is generated from the back-end and that’s apparent with their leading point getter being defenseman Keith Yandle. They also have Ed Jonvanovski and Derek Morris who both possess huge shots from the point and Michal Roszival who has an offensive upside. Youngster Oliver Ekman-Larsson can also generate a good amount of offense as well. Phoenix scores goals by having their defensive corps get shots in and using their forwards in more of a forechecking role to get traffic in front of the net and get easy shots in. The Capitals will have to be ready to block a lot of shots against Phoenix and get the puck out fast because Phoenix is a team that can kill you if they pin you in your own zone.

Their most dangerous line is arguably the first line of Scotty Upshall, Shane Doan and Kyle Turris. Not terribly crafty forwards but they are all very strong and will make you pay if they are given the space. Also keep a lookout for Eric Belanger because I’m sure he will want to score a goal on his former team who he left on a bad note with.

Goaltending matchup is between Michal Neuvirth and Ilya Bryzgalov. Neuvirth got the day off against LA, so it’s his turn to go tonight. Bryzgalov was a Veznia nominee last year and he’s not having a spectacular season but he is still capable of stealing a game on any given night.

Keys to Victory:

Control the play of the game. The Capitals can not let the Coyotes pin them in their own zone if they expect to win this game. The Caps need to be the ones generating the most offense and getting to rebounds. Bryzgalov can be beaten if he gives up a rebound or if he overplays a puck so if Washington keeps up the pressure, they will have a better chance of winning.

Better special teams. The powerplay has sucked and the penalty kill’s been great. For tonight, I wouldn’t mind if that was flipped because Phoenix has only the 22nd ranked penalty killing unit in the league and the 19th ranked powerplay. Let’s not commit many penalties and hope Phoenix takes some!

Alex Semin needs to start producing again. I don’t know why, but I feel that this is a good game for Semin to get it going again. Goalless in almost 3 months now and he’s shown a lot of rust since coming back from his injury. Not good. He skated with the 2nd line in practice yesterday with Knuble playing on the top line. Hopefully that leads to more goals.

 

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