The Colorado Avalanche finally won their first home game of the season on Sunday, a 3-2 thrilling victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Their reward? A break at home before facing off against the always-frustrating Phoenix Coyotes.
For the Avalanche, they are hoping that a home-heavy schedule in November can keep them near the top of the Western Conference standings, especially with a season long eight game homestand that begins November 18 against the Dallas Stars and extends all the way through the first week of December. A victory over the favored Kings on Sunday was a good first step towards that goal. Despite being outshot 32-16, Colorado was able to take advantage of timely bounces when they beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for the very first time in his career. He was previously 7-0 against the Avalanche in eight starts.
But Colorado isn't the only team that has turned heads across the league. The Coyotes lost Ilya Bryzgalov to free agency this summer, and most expected them to flounder near the bottom of the Western Conference standings without an anchor in net. Yet journeyman goalie Mike Smith has filled in nicely in front of Phoenix's defense-first system and embraced the starting role, as he boasts an efficient .919 SV% and a 4-2-2 record.
Shane Doan continues his always-solid production with four goals and 10 points, just one behind Ray Whitney's team-leading five goals. Radim Vrbata and Keith Yandle are also having solid seasons. There's not a lot of scoring talent here, but Phoenix's most talented players have been their best players this season.
While Phoenix stays afloat in the standings, the hockey world is buzzing like vultures around unsigned restricted free agent Kyle Turris. The former first round selection is standing firm on his contract demands, and the Coyotes front office is incredibly unlikely to accede to his demands. Turris has never had a breakout year in the NHL, but he is a tempting piece for teams desperate for a talented center. The drama continues...
Semyon Varlamov will start in net. He has started every home game for Colorado.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MDT.
For more coverage, please visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey or our Coyotes blog Five For Howling.