Phoenix Coyotes @ Vancouver Canucks Preview: Blackfish Sunday

Rich Lam

The Phoenix Coyotes finish their three game road trip in Vancouver against the Canucks.

After nearly pulling a Toronto the Phoenix Coyotes are headed to Vancouver in hopes of getting closer to that wild card spot. So far this season the Coyotes' games against the Canucks have gone exclusively to the home team. Can the Desert Dogs break the streak or will they once again give up to points to a division rival?


Phoenix Coyotes

Vancouver Canucks

Points

57 (5th in Pacific)

61 (4th in Pacific)

PP/PK

20.0/79.1 (8th/25th in NHL)

14.3/86.1 (26th/3rd in NHL)

Goals Against per Game

2.96 (25th in NHL)

2.38 (8th in NHL)

Last 10 Games

4-6-0 (8pts)

3-5-2 (8pts)



Phoenix Coyotes

That game against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday was a win. Barely. Though it might have came on shaky ground once again the Coyotes have an opportunity to create a win streak and this game in BC is a golden opportunity.

The Yotes barely have an edge in the series with a shootout win, a shootout loss and a shutout but this time Phoenix will be at full strength, while the Canucks are missing star forward Henrik Sedin. The last time these two teams met in western Canada it was without Zbynek Michalek, Lauri Korpikoski and Shane Doan. Now, with a healthy team the Desert Dogs have no excuses for not bringing down the hammer (maybe even the Rob Klinkhammer?) against the Canuckleheads.

Vancouver Canucks


The Canucks recent record looks very similar to the Coyotes. They are 3-5-2 for their last ten games and find themselves back in the L column after a losing it in the third period to the Nashville Predators. Losing your coach for six games doesn't help either. With 61 points (tied with the Minnesota Wild) the Nucks have the top Wild Card spot and are four points ahead of the Coyotes. That makes this game even more important for them (a factor we'll revisit in Keys to the Game).

Where the lead up to the break is important to the Coyotes it's nearly do or die for Vancouver. Eight Canucks highlight Sochi rosters including Luongo (likely with the top spot in goal), the Sedin twins, and Ryan Kesler. If Olympic fatigue is all that some coaches claim it can be then Vancouver might be in a real tough spot come March and the playoff run.

Keys to the Game

  • Points: When facing a division rival it's unlike taking on any other given team. Considering that the Coyotes just played Edmonton and Calgary this may not seem like such a big factor but when you consider that it's a two point swing toward getting a wildcard spot or away from it this game become even more important. Phoenix can't allow Vancouver to even get one point, a point gained is a point lost.
  • Keeping up the Power Play: Vancouver has allowed four power play goals in the last five games including one against the Coyotes. The only team they didn't give one up to was Edmonton. So this would be a great opportunity to score early and score often...well as often as you have a power play.
  • TKO: The technical knockout may be a boxing term but it's something the Coyotes need to learn from. Unlike last game the Yotes need to put the Canucks down and keep them down. No comebacks. No overtime. Just a solid win.

Players to Watch


Keith Yandle

#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes

6-1

190

Sep 09, 1986



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Keith Yandle 6 28 34 -14 37

With six assists over his last six games Yandle has been a key playmaker. During that same stint the Coyotes had 13 goals for. Meaning Yandle participated in slightly less than half of them.


Ryan Kesler

#17 / Center / Vancouver Canucks

6-2

202

Aug 31, 1984



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Ryan Kesler 18 14 32 -5 45

Kesler may not be on a point streak but he has been a team leader through the troubles of the last few games. Since that war crime in Anaheim Kesler has lead the team with 18 shots over the last four games. Add to that a goal and two assists and Kesler is at least trying to go streaking.

Likely Starting Goaltenders


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Mike Smith 43 2534 18 15 121 2.86 1349 1228 .910 1

In his last game against the Nucks Smitty had his first shutout of the season. Despite the Edmonton comeback Smith still earned the third star of the game and against Luongo (who he might kinda be up against for the starting job in Sochi) he always puts up a great fight.


Roberto Luongo

#1 / Goalie / Vancouver Canucks

6-3

217

Apr 04, 1979



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Roberto Luongo 36 2063 18 11 75 2.18 982 907 .924 3

Since coming back from his injury Bobby Lou has a .943 save percentage and only 1.67 goals against. Getting one past him is hard enough but now it looks like he's out to prove he deserves that Olympic spot.

Injury Report

Vancouver will be without Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts (the latter two remain on IR). The Coyotes have a healthy roster.

Puck Drop

The puck will drop at 6:00pm Arizona time. There's no football, no baseball, no basketball (well no Suns basketball). There's no excuse to not watch as the Desert Dogs take on the Blackfish.

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