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No rest for the weary in Western Canada

The Arizona Coyotes have precious little time to lick their wounds from their loss in Calgary, as they take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes were bested thanks in large part to poor defensive play and excessive puck watching. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Yet there is no time for the Coyotes to step back and figure out what went wrong, as they are right back at it again tonight to take on the Vancouver Canucks in the second game of their Western Canada swing.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Vancouver Canucks
Points 13 (7th Pacific) 24 (2nd Pacific)
Goals Per Game 2.44 (23rd) 3.00 (T-7th)
Goals Against Per Game 3.44 (28th) 2.76 (18th)
Power Play Percentage 19.4% (16th) 19.0% (17th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 75.9% (26th) 86.4% (7th)
5v5 Fenwick For % 48.62% (23rd) 50.42% (15th)
PDO 96.90 (29th) 100.20 (13th)

View from Arizona

Arizona is not out of the woods as far as its defensive problems go. Defensive players like Connor Murphy, Michael Stone, and Keith Yandle struggled to give Mike Smith clear shooting lanes and make simple plays to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. As a result, the team came a breakaway save away from conceding a hat trick to noted NHL goal scorer Paul Byron.

On the plus side, the team scored a power play goal, snapping an 0 for 20 streak in the process. Joe Vitale scored another goal of his own, and continues to prove to be an underrated signing by Don Maloney in the offseason.

View from Vancouver

But the biggest move Don Maloney might have made this summer is actually the move he didn't make. Maloney, for reasons of dollar amount and the demand for a no-movement clause that Maloney rarely gives out, opted not to bring Radim Vrbata back into the fold. As a result, Vrbata went to the Canucks to play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

The change of scenery (plus a change of coaching) has worked wonders for the Canucks thus far. The team has the second best record in the Pacific Division, and has benefited from the consistent play of Ryan Miller in goal.

Keys to the Game

  • Shake it Off - The Coyotes are certainly displeased with the game they played Thursday night. But they cannot afford to over think the game they are playing tonight, or allow their miscues to make them play more conservatively tonight.
  • Blank Space - The slot has been an increasingly blank space for Coyotes defenders this season. They need to do a better job keeping forwards out of this area, or Mike Smith and/or Devan Dubnyk are going to continue to fish pucks out of the back of their net.
  • Out of the Woods - The power play finally scored last night, thanks in large part to persistent movement away from the point. Arizona needs to continue to move the puck and take shots from these areas to stretch the PK out more.

Who's Hot

Joe Vitale now has two goals in his last two games with the Coyotes. He may not have been the most expected source for secondary scoring, but he's providing it right now.

Radim Vrbata is 2nd on the team in goals (6) and 4th in points (13). Shockingly, playing with the Sedins is working out well for Vrby's stat line.

Injury Report

Arizona's only injury is to David Moss (upper body). He is skating again, but still not expected to return.

Vancouver is without Tom Sesito (lower body) and Zach Kassian (lower body) for the foreseeable future. Luca Sbisa (undisclosed), Radim Vrbata (leg), and Derek Dorsett (undisclosed) are all considered questionable tonight. Kevin Bieksa (illness) is expected to play.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 8:00 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus, or listen on 92.3 FM.