Saturday, October 15, 2005

GameDay: @ Phoenix (1-3-1, 3 Pts) 10:00 ET

Tonight is the first of four games between the Wings and the Coyotes this season. They split the season series 1-1-2 on 03-04. The Wings are riding a 4-1-0 start and coming off a sloppy 5-2 win in LA on Thursday. Their only loss came against the Canucks on Monday (2-4). They are tied for the Central Division lead with Nashville (4-0-0) and are the second highest scoring team in the league so far with 22 goals (Toronto has 24). They are 2-0 on the road this season. The Coyotes have had a bit of a rough start under new coach Wayne Gretzky. Each game they have played has been decided by a single goal and only one of them was a win. They have lost their last two, 3-2 to the Stars in Dallas and 5-4 to the Predators at home in a shootout. Their only win was a 2-1 decision against the Wild on the 8th. They are dead last in the Pacific Division and have only scored 12 goals as a team. The Coyotes are 1-0-1 at home so far this season. Manny Legace will very likely get the start for the Wings, though Jim Howard may see the ice sometime soon, the News reports. Rookie David Leneveu is the likely starter for the Coyotes. Former-Red Wings goalie Curtis Joseph is listed a "questionable" with a groin injury. We'll see at least two familiar faces on the ice tonight: Boyd Devereaux and Brett Hull. Both players signed with the Coyotes before the lockout after being left unsigned by the Wings. We may get to see Curtis Joseph as well, though his groin injury may prevent a return to the ice tonight. Update (5:37 PM): Well, it looks like we won't be seeing Brett Hull tonight after all. CBC is reporting that he will announce his retirement from hockey after 18 years in a press conference scheduled for this evening. Wow. I wasn't expecting that! Interesting timing though. More later. We'll also see a familiar face on the bench: Barry Smith. Smith, formerly an associate coach here, was passed up by the Wings in favor of Mike Babcock for the head coaching job. He could be a head coach in many cities but by the time he was free to seek a new position, the head coaching slots around the league were filled and he had to settle for working with Gretzky. Although Wayne Gretzky's experiment has not been very successful so far, the Wings still have a very high opinion of him. With his track record, it doesn't make any sense to put the stamp of failure on Wayne's coaching career so early. I expect him to get it together eventually. The Wings should win this game but their performance on Thursday wasn't very encouraging. They were sloppy and pretty much got a lucky win in LA. Hopefully they'll be more prepared to play tonight and take care of business while the Coyotes are still floundering.


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