The Nashville Predators are taking on the Phoenix Coyotes tomorrow night, and blogger Travis Hair (OdinMercer) from SBN's Coyotes affiliate Five for Howling took some time to answer some questions of mine regarding the Coyotes' off-ice dealings, former Pred Vernon Fiddler, and more.
Thanks to Travis for his time, and follow after the jump for the interview.
1. Taking a quick look at the standings, its still a little shocking to see Phoenix as high as they are. Ilya Bryzgalov has been superhuman, but what have been the other keys to success?
Bryzgalov has been pretty great, but it's having a solid defensive plan in front of him that allows that to happen. With the exception of the last few games, the team as a whole has been great about locking the opposition out of the offensive zone or forcing them to the outside for low quality shots. Our role players in Vernon Fiddler, Daniel Winnik and Lauri Korpikoski have been great at setting the defensive tone as well.
2. Vernon Fiddler is a former Pred, and was a fan favorite. How is he working out as a Coyote?
He's been great so far especially in the faceoff circle and providing some energy on the third line. The fans here love him even if there aren't Fiddler jerseys flying off the shelves. Any time there's an important faceoff he's on the ice, and on the penalty kill he's been outstanding.
3. As Predator fans, we sympathize with the off-ice issues the Coyotes have dealt with. Can you update us on how things are on that front?
Still in a holding pattern for now. Ice Edge Holdings is still negotiating with all the necessary parties to get this deal done though. It looks like most of the things that need to be done with the City of Glendale have been worked out and I saw Ice Edge CEO Anthony LeBlanc at the game against the Wild so it's pretty much them unless something disastrous happens. In the meantime the fans are still iffy, at least the ones that aren't die hards, but there are promising signs for the future once this deal gets finished.
4. Which Coyote should Pred fans keep an eye on Thursday?
It's hard to say with how the Coyotes seem to have a different guy hot each night. Shane Doan has started to heat up a bit though with goals in the past two games. Petr Prucha has also been playing extremely well lately, creating plays on his own and just being everywhere on the ice.
5. In your opinion, what does Phoenix need to do at the trade deadline?
That's a tough one because in general the team is doing so well right now, besides the small downturn lately. I think it really all depends on what's available out there. We have quality prospects and quite a bit of cap room, but no one that we want to unload right now. We could use a top tier scorer, but the price would likely be too high for GM Don Maloney to really get anyone great.