The Phoenix Coyotes (27-23-11) have played three games since returning from the Olympic break, and they've gone 0-2-1. After a tough 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, the Coyotes will take on the Vancouver Canucks (28-25-10) for the fifth and final time this season tonight.
The loss to St. Louis was very disappointing. The Coyotes can't seem to protect leads, and it's really frustrating to watch. On Sunday, the Coyotes played really well for the first two periods. They had a nice 2-0 lead, they were in control, and they had the Blues on their heals, and it looked as if they were going to win the game. But obviously, that didn't happen, as the Blues decided to wake up in the third period, where they notched four goals.
Protecting leads are important, especially when you are a team fighting for a playoff spot, and if the Coyotes want to win tonight, they will need to tighten up defensively, and play a full 60-minute game.
It's not hard, right?
The Vancouver Canucks enter tonight's contest coming off a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in the Heritage Classic this past Sunday. The Canucks played a good game, but just like the Coyotes, they couldn't keep their 2-0 lead, as Ottawa scored four unanswered goals.
The Canucks are also struggling to win games, and with their loss to the Sens, they have gone 1-8-1 in their last ten. They're a team that's fighting for a playoff spot, just like the Coyotes. So you can expect them to try and redeem themselves tonight.
Keys to the game
- Shoot The Puck More: When you have the opportunity to shoot the puck, you shoot. This is something the Coyotes don't do enough, and it's one of the main reasons why they aren't scoring more goals.
- Get in Front of The Goaltender: The Coyotes have a hard time getting in front of the goaltender, and that's something they'll need to do tonight.
- Protect The Lead: This is the team's biggest issue right now. If you have a lead, protect it, and you will win hockey games. How hard can it be?
Player To Watch
#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes
Jun 13, 1981
|2013 - Radim Vrbata||15||25||40||-7||18|
Radim Vrbata is one of the team's most offensive players, and when he can get it going, he's deadly. Look for him to play a big factor in tonight's tilt.
Projected Starting Goaltender
#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Mar 22, 1982
|2013 - Mike Smith||51||2957||20||18||137||2.78||1559||1422||.912||2|
Mike Smith played well on Sunday against St. Louis, despite the loss, especially in the first two periods. He made 26 saves on 30 shots faced. It's a no brainier to start him tonight.
Coyotes' Martin Hanzal (lower-body) is questionable tonight, according to Dave Tippett
The Vancouver Canucks will be without Daniel Sedin (leg), Mike Santorelli (right shoulder), Yannick Weber (upper-body) and Andrew Alberts (concussion).
Tonight's game gets under way at 7:00 p.m. Arizona time, and can been seen on Fox Sports Arizona Plus.