Feb. 28, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) shoots the puck up ice during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes beat the Canucks 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Tonight for the final time during the regular season the Phoenix Coyotes will be facing off against the Vancouver Canucks. The game will be tonight at 7 pm at Rogers Arena, where the Yotes took the Canucks to a shootout last February, the one loss during the amazing month that was February. So far the Coyotes are 1-1-1 against the Canucks, and they have gotten two points in the last two games. The Desert Dogs have proved that they can go toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league and win, and that is what they are going to need to do again tonight.
The Coyotes have struggled throughout the month to get points and they currently 4 points back from Dallas for the Division title. A good test for the Yotes playoff potential will be this game, Dallas was one of the teams that Vancouver lost to this month. Although the Coyotes have been nothing special for the first part of the month they were great against San Jose and they were able to take Nashville to the shootout and get a point. Hopefully when they play against Vancouver they will remember how they played in February and recreate that style of play, and if they do they should be able to get the win.
Vancouver is another team that seems to be struggling in March, although not as bad as the Yotes have. They have dropped 3 of their last 5 games and they are no longer leading the West, although they are still leading their Division. The Canucks should not be taken lightly though, they have wins over the hot St. Louis Blues and the playoff hungry Colorado Avalanche. Vancouver has an excellent home record, they are 20-9-4, and they tend to score more than they let in, 215 to 172.
Five For Winning
1. Score first. There has only been one game this month were the Coyotes scored first, the one game that they won against the San Jose Sharks. If that isn't a sign that good things happen for the Coyotes when they aren't chasing the game I don't know what is.
2. Keep it in regulation. The Coyotes have 2 overtime losses this month and Vancouver has already gotten an overtime win against the Yotes, the best way to win is going to be to finish it regulation.
3. Good defense. Vancouver tends to score a lot but some smart defensive play by the Yotes can stop that. The last two games against the Coyotes the have only scored 2 goals. Hopefully the defense can shut down the Canucks offense again.
4. Goals from everyone. Only two Coyotes have managed to get goals against Vancouver, Keith Yandle and Ray Whitney. Someone else needs to step up and get a goal, Antoine Vermette got his first goal against Columbus earlier this month, and he's been getting some assists, but another goal would be very helpful.
5. Special teams. A good power play shift would be awesome for the Coyotes, although its not very likely that the worst power play team will get a power play goal against the fifth best penalty kill in the league. The Yotes are going to need to control Vancouver's power play which is fourth in the league.
Players To Watch
|2011 - Keith Yandle||10||30||40||5||42|
Keith Yandle's defensive play may not be as well as some of us would like, but he has been getting some goals lately, including against Nashville and Columbus. He also scored the goal that tied the last game against Vancouver, hopefully he can do that again.
|2011 - Alexander Edler||10||33||43||0||30|
This may be the game to watch the defensemen, in the last game it was defensemen who got the goals including one by Alexander Edler. Edler didn't go quiet after the last game against Phoenix though, he has scored two goals since then.
|2011 - Mike Smith||56||3229||30||17||124||2.30||1668||1544||.926||5|
Mike Smith has been playing better as of late, getting the shut out victory against the Sharks and getting the Coyotes into overtime against Nashville. He was in net for the win against Vancouver, hopefully he can bring that level of play to this game.
|2011 - Roberto Luongo||48||2769||27||13||112||2.43||1364||1252||.918||3|
Roberto Luongo has not been playing very well as of late, he is letting in more goals than normally, allowing 3 or more goals in 6 of his past 7 games. That being said he is likely to get the start, and hopefully his bad streak continues.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Vancouver Canucks Injuries
Remember to come back here later tonight and join in on the game day thread and post game coverage, and you can always head over to Nucks Misconduct to check out their side of the story.