After back-to-back disappointing performances to open their six game road swing, the Phoenix Coyotes will look to get things back on track in a contest with, arguably, the league's worst club in the New York Islanders.
The Coyotes come in having lost three of their last four, including the first two to kick off this road trip. The first was an all-around disappointment against a New Jersey Devils squad that was only looking down at these Islanders. Thursday's loss saw the Coyotes blow a two-goal lead and fall in a shootout to the New York Rangers.
The Isles come in sporting a league-worst 17 points on the season, three behind the Devils for 14th in the Eastern Conference. As Phoenix's luck would have it, New York comes in with just a bit more confidence, coming in off of a rare win. Four of the Islanders' six wins have come in their own barn.
Phoenix enters Saturday's contest two points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, tied with the Los Angeles Kings with 35 points. After a scorching November, the Coyotes have won just four of their last 10, and have really struggled against bad teams like the Isles. Recent games include losses to teams like New Jersey and the Minnesota Wild, as well as the Nashville Predators, who were struggling before blanking the Yotes.
Jason LaBarbera is expected to take his place between the pipes for the second consecutive game for Phoenix on Saturday. Ilya Bryzgalov is listed as questionable with an illness, after missing Thursday's game with the flu. LaBarbera will start regardless, but the Coyotes recalled Rich Climie from San Antonio to dress in the event that Bryz cannot.
A late Rangers surge prevented LaBarbera from claiming his third consecutive win. He beat the Chicago Blackhawks, as well as the Wild, both on the road. He made key saves on Thursday, while allowing just one goal in the shootout, but his teammates failed to pick him up.
With how tight the Western Conference is, every point starts to count for the Phoenix Coyotes. Teams like the Islanders are games that are a necessity to win more than anything, strictly due to the fact that they are a poor team. Saturday's contest in Long Island should give an idea of whether or not the Coyotes are ready to flash that killer instinct, or continue to allow struggling teams to sting them.