DDB: Showdown for first place

Mar 19, 2012, 10:27 PM | Updated: 11:28 pm

GLENDALE – The Coyotes and Dallas Stars will battle for
first place in the Pacific Division standings on national
television on Tuesday.

NBC Sports Network, formerly VERSUS, will broadcast the
game from the American Airlines Center starting at 5 p.m.
(Arizona time).

Clearly it’s a huge game for both teams, but I’m not ready
to declare whichever team wins a lock to finish the season
as division champ. There are just too many games left and
too many other teams – namely San Jose and Los Angeles –
who still have a shot at winning the division title/the
No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Nevertheless, the winner of Tuesday’s game will gain a
significant edge with the regular season’s finish line now
in sight.

FYI, the Coyotes have beaten the Stars three times in a
row, but the Stars have posted a 10-3-1 record since last
playing – and losing to – the Coyotes on Feb. 18. With so
much at stake, it promises to be a great game to watch.

• On Monday, the Coyotes posted a poll question on their
Facebook page asking their fans which team in the Pacific
Division they felt pose the biggest threat to Phoenix’s
quest to win the division title. As of this writing, the
San Jose Sharks – not the Dallas Stars – are the team most
fans think the Coyotes will ultimately have to beat out.
In fact, the Sharks are winning the vote in landslide
fashion.

I am surprised the Los Angeles Kings, who are just one
point behind Phoenix and Dallas and who are tied with San
Jose in points, received so few votes in the poll –
roughly three percent. Don’t count the Kings out – they’ve
won four games in a row and have a game in hand on the
Coyotes.

Today I am tipping my hat to…

• Head Coach Dave Tippett – for winning his 400th game on
Sunday night at Edmonton. Only Detroit’s Mike Babcock has
won more games (415) than Tippett since Tippett became an
NHL head coach in 2002-03. ‘Nuff said.

• Defenseman Keith Yandle – for dropping the gloves and
fighting Oilers forward Lennart Petrell on his first shift
of Sunday’s game. Yandle has been struggling with
turnovers the past few games and his decision to fight
Petrell was a message to his coaches and his teammates
that he’s committed to the team and to winning.

• Forward Raffi Torres – for becoming a goal-scoring
machine in the third period and a real impact impact
player. Torres has scored four goals in the past seven
games and all were scored in the final 20 minutes.
Moreover, Torres plays only 11:15 per game and yet he
ranks fifth on the team with 14 goals.

• Forward Mikkel Boedker – for becoming a highly reliable
shootout participant. Boedker is now 4 for 7 in shootouts
this season. Boedker is using his speed to set up his
shootout goals and it is working well. Click here to watch
the in-arena player profile on Boedker.

• Color Analyst Tyson Nash – for being asked to serve as a
guest panelist for TSN this week before returning to the
Coyotes’ booth for Thursday night’s home game vs.
Colorado. I’m hoping he wears “The Jacket.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on
Twitter @davest4yotes.
For information on upcoming Phoenix Coyotes games, please
visit http://coyotes.nhl.com

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