Whenever the Red Wings head to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes it works like a home game away from home. When the two teams face off tonight (8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it should be more of the same for Detroit, but this time they’ll be facing a desperate Coyotes team looking to get back into the playoff mix.
Phoenix has won just six games out of their last 20 (6-9-5) and have slipped into a tie for 11th in the Western Conference with Calgary. On the upside for the Coyotes, they’re just four points back of Minnesota for eighth. When you’re struggling the way the Coyotes are, it’s all about accentuating the positives.
As for the player positives, Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata have been about as good as it gets for Phoenix. Whitney leads the team with 45 points and Vrbata leads the way in goals with 24. The Coyotes are a team that struggles to score, however, as they’ve only got four players in double-digits in goals. At the very least, the Coyotes won’t be dealing Shane Doan away at the deadline.
One guy who has been strong this season is Mike Smith in goal. His season numbers are solid but with the Coyotes in a funk, he’s had a hard time of late. With Detroit in town he’ll have to be on top of his game.
The Red Wings come in without Jimmy Howard as he’s out with a busted pinkie finger. That leaves Detroit’s goaltending up to the backup tandem of Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald. Conklin hasn’t inspired any confidence this season and MacDonald may wind up stealing the starting job away while Howard is out.
All that aside, Detroit has been playing great of late losing just twice in their last 11 games. Detroit will hope that Jobing.com Arena treats them like home one more time this season. Detroit is 3-0-0 against the Coyotes this season and won in a shootout in Phoenix back on January 19.
Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp
It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.
Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.
He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.
Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.
The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension
The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.
It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.
Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.