UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
NHL

Coyotes-Predators Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are the only team yet to play on the road and they won't be heading into this two-game trip with much confidence.

The Coyotes also likely won't have center Martin Hanzal when they try to hand the Nashville Predators their first regulation loss Tuesday night.

Arizona (2-2-0) has one of the worst goals-against averages in the NHL at 4.50 - in stark contrast to the 1.40 GAA by Nashville (3-0-2) that is tied with Detroit's mark for second best in the league.

"I think there's a lot of things that have to come together," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Our goaltending has to be solid, we have to be a very disciplined team in how we play, we have to manage the puck better."

Mike Smith's 5.33 GAA is among the worst in the NHL, and he's 1-4-0 with a 3.60 mark in five career games at Nashville.

"It's hard but it's a long season," Smith said. "I think I'm continuing to remind myself of that. I've played three games now and obviously it hadn't gone close to the way it needs to be and I understand that."

The task won't be easy Tuesday since Hanzal sustained a lower-body injury in Saturday's 6-1 defeat to St. Louis and had to be helped from the ice.

Tippett has not ruled out Hanzal, who was being evaluated Monday. He centers Arizona's top line that includes Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker.

"He's as valuable a player as we have on our team, especially up front," Doan said. "Up front he's probably our most important player. When you take him out of our lineup, that's big. Hopefully he'll be back soon."

Boedker scored five goals in his first three games before coming up empty Saturday. He has scored twice in 16 games against the Predators.

Nashville figures to turn back to Pekka Rinne in goal after backup Carter Hutton made 35 saves in Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago in the second of back-to-back games.

Rinne had a 31-save shutout the previous night in a 2-0 win at Winnipeg. He has a 1.23 GAA this season and has posted four shutouts in his last nine home starts against the Coyotes.

The goalie is supported by a top-notch group of defensemen led by Shea Weber and Roman Josi, who average 27:51 and 27:40 of ice time - among the highest in the NHL. Weber leads the club with three goals.

"Their blue line is as good a blue line as there is in the game," Tippett said. "Seth Jones (is) coming along, you got Weber, Josi is a real good player, (Anton) Volchenkov is a good shot blocker, penalty killer."

This marks the second time Martin Erat will play in Nashville as a visitor. Erat is second on the Predators' all-time list with 163 goals.

Nashville center Mike Ribeiro has a point in three straight games. He tied Doan for fourth on the Coyotes with 47 points in 2013-14 in his lone season with the club.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More NHL

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.