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Arizona Coyotes @ Vancouver Canucks preview: a familiar face

The Coyotes travel to Vancouver for a preseason matchup against Radim Vrbata and the Canucks.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After yet another round of cuts, a more condensed Arizona Coyotes squad travels to Vancouver to take on the Canucks in their sixth game of the preseason.

Matchup at a Glance


Arizona Coyotes

Vancouver Canucks

Points

89 (4th in Pacific)

83 (5th in Pacific)

Goals Per Game

2.56 (20th)

2.33 (28th)

Goals Against Per Game

2.73 (18th)

2.63 (14th)

Power Play Percentage

19.9% (4th)

15.2 (26th)

Penalty Kill Percentage

79.0 (26th)

83.2 (9th)

View From Vancouver

A failed 2013-14 campaign under the leadership of John Tortorella, who was fired at the season's end, left the Vancouver Cancucks watching the playoffs from home. The upcoming season will feature a transformed Canucks lineup as they hope to heal their damaged reputation as a perennial playoff team.

The Canucks first addressed their head coaching vacancy by signing Willie Desjardins, who had previously led the Texas Stars to a Calder Cup championship. Canucks General Manager Jim Benning has called Desjardins "a great teacher, motivator and communicator" and believes he will be able to help the team back to the franchise's usual level of success.

Regarding on-ice personnel, the Canucks began their offseason by dealing Ryan Kesler to Anaheim for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and a first-round pick. They then made their mark on the free agent market by signing Ryan Miller to a three-year contract, as well as agreeing to terms with former Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata. Yotes fans will most likely see Vrbata joining the Swedish twins, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, on a highly-skilled line that has already shown flashes of brilliance this offseason.

View From Arizona

This will be the first preseason game for the Coyotes with a slimmer roster, featuring only 32 players. Tonight's matchup will undoubtedly prove to be important for young players and veterans vying for the final spots on the team's opening day roster.

Henrik Samuelsson and Tyler Gaudet were the most notable cuts made following the intrasquad scrimmage. Coyotes coaching and management has stressed numerous times that young players will not be rushed to the NHL stage, as to ensure their long term career success.

That being said, young forwards like Max Domi, Tobias Reider, Brandon Perlini, Lucas Lessio and Justin Hodgman are given yet another chance to prove they can compete on the game's biggest stage.

Keys to the Game

  • Prove your worth. As mentioned above, a handful of young skaters still have a chance to inject some youth into the Coyotes' roster. They should be playing every one of these games with an incredible sense of urgency.

  • Contain Vrby + the Sedins. The Coyotes can't afford to get stuck watching Daniel and Henrik cycling the puck, only to have one of them dish to Vrbata for an easy snipe.

  • Stay healthy. This has been stressed in practically every preseason game preview thus far. Its important.

Who's Hot

Lucas Lessio and David Moss both scored in the intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Buzz still surrounds Justin Hodgman, who scored the only Yotes goal last week against the Sharks and added a tally in the shootout.

Injury Report

No new injuries. Brendan Perlini is still out with a hand injury. Alex Edler will be back in the lineup for the Canucks tonight.

Puck Drop

Puck drops tonight at 6 p.m., Arizona time. It will be broadcast on NHL Network starting at 7 p.m.