Phoenix Coyotes Going Sharks Fishing This Week

Derek PivkoCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2009

If the Phoenix Coyotes want to consider themselves a serious threat in the Pacific Division, then this is the week to prove it.

The Coyotes will face division leader the San Jose Sharks twice this week. While the Sharks might be the division leader, the Coyotes haven’t lost to the Sharks all season.

In 38 games this season, the Sharks have scored 127 goals, which is tied for second place in the NHL. However, against the Coyotes the Sharks have only scored once.

It will be a battle of Russian Olympian goaltenders tonight if both Ilya Bryzgalov and Evgeni Nabokov get the start tonight. Russia released their Olympic rosters last week, and this game could play an important role in deciding who will start for Team Russia when the Olympics begin in February.

Bryzgalov currently leads the league in shutouts this season with five and is tied for second place in wins. One of those shutouts came against the Sharks early in the season.

The Vezina Trophy candidate has helped the Coyotes win nine games this month for the second time this season. The Coyotes are one win shy of setting the franchise record for wins in the month.

It will be a battle of streaks, as the Coyotes are on a three-game winning streak, and the Sharks are on a four-game winning streak. One of these streaks will come to an end tonight.

Martin Hanzal has been on a hot streak for the Coyotes, as he has registered two goals and an assist in the past three games. If the Sharks want to continue their four-game winning streak, they will rely on Patrick Marleau, who has been a key part of the Sharks' success this season. In the last four games, Marleau has five goals and two assists.

The Coyotes are without Daniel Winnik for the first time this season after his placement on IR. In the absence of Winnik, the Coyotes recalled Kevin Porter and Jeff Hoggan, who could see ice time as the Coyotes will play four games in the next six nights.

Vernon Fiddler, who has missed the last three games due to a lower-body injury, may return to the lineup tonight. Fiddler traveled with the team to San Jose, and he could play tonight or be scratched from the lineup and return tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.

If the Coyotes want to win tonight, they should take the Sharks into overtime. The Sharks are 0-6 this season in overtime.

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