The Bruins will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time this season Saturday night in Phoenix, as they look to follow up Friday’s convincing 3-0 victory over the Dallas Stars. Boston was able to get two goals from center Marc Savard and 27 saves from Tim Thomas that led the Bruins to their first shutout of the year.
Saturday night, the Black & Gold invade what should be a listless Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ. The Coyotes have struggled to draw fans thus far, and that will likely continue all season long, as the turmoil in the ownership box wages on. While the Coyotes are boasting on their web site that their home opener was sold out, other sources indicate that less than 7,000 people were actually in attendance to see the team’s opener vs. Columbus. So needless to say, plenty of great seats are still available for this matchup.
It’s time to take a closer look at this year’s Phoenix Coyotes squad, a team that has impressed many in their first half dozen games, as they currently sit atop the Pacific Division with a 4-2 record.
- In the only meeting between these two teams last year, Boston fell to Phoenix 2-1 at TD Garden, the day after last season’s trade deadline. Scottie Upshall, in his first game as a Coyote, scored the game winner, just a day after joining the team after being traded away from the Flyers.
- Boston’s last visit to Phoenix was in October of 2007, a 3-1 win.
- Phoenix has allowed just 6 goals in their last 5 games, one of those being an empty-netter.
- In net, the Coyotes are led by a red hot Ilya Bryzgalov (4-1, 1.17GAA), who already has posted 2 shutouts on this young season. Backing up Bryzgalov is ex-King Jason Labarbera (0-1, 2.03GAA).
- On the offensive side, Phoenix has no one on their roster with more than 4 points thus far. Both Radim Vrbata (3G, 1A) and Ed Jovanowski (2G, 2A) share the lead for the Coyotes. Last season, captain Shane Doan led the team in scoring with 31 goals and 42 assists. Doan scored his first goal of this year in Phoenix’s previous game, a 3-2 OT win over St. Louis Thursday night. His early goal snapped a team scoreless streak that spanned a whopping 171 minutes and 41 seconds.
- Behind the bench, Phoenix is led by new head coach Dave Tippett, who took the reigns just days before the start of the season. Former head coach (not sure if you’ve heard of him) Wayne Gretzky abruptly resigned on September 23rd, citing the team’s unstable future. Tippett had spent the previous 6 seasons as the head coach of Boston’s opponent last night, the Dallas Stars. He posted an impressive 271-162-59 record during his time in Dallas, leading the team to the playoffs in 5 of his 6 seasons at the helm.
- Lastly, for some local flair, Phoenix boasts young blueliner Keith Yandle. The 23-year-old Yandle was born in Milton, MA, and is a graduate of Cushing Academy out in Ashburnham, MA. He was to follow his brother Brian to the University of New Hampshire to play hockey there, but was unable to get academically cleared to join UNH. Instead, he quickly made his way up the ranks and made his NHL debut with Phoenix in 2006. This has nothing to do with hockey, but I looked up other notable graduates from Cushing Academy and feel like it’s my duty to share some of them with you. Plenty of hockey players attended Cushing, including Tom Poti, ex-Bruin Bobby Allen, and Chris Bourque, son of Bruin great Ray Bourque. Also among the alums, the late actress Bette Davis, WWE superstar John Cena, and believe it or not, the current King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. I’m thinking Mr. Wangchuck’s diploma had to be on posterboard… how do you fit that name on 8 1/2″x11″ paper?
Tags: Bobby Allen, Boston Bruins, Chris Bourque, Dave Tippett, Ed Jovanowski, Ice Breakers, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jason Labarbera, John Cena, Keith Yandle, Marc Savard, Phoenix Coyotes, Radim Vrbata, Scottie Upshall, Shane Doan, Tim Thomas, Tom Poti, Wayne Gretzky