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Arizona Coyotes return home to play Vancouver Canucks

The Arizona Coyotes are home again after two weeks on the road. Will they bounce back from a brutal loss in Boston?

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Two days off from NHL action may have done the banged up Arizona Coyotes some good. Their health will be tested when they play the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Gila River Arena.

Matchup at a Glance

Vancouver Canucks Arizona Coyotes
Points 12 (2nd Pacific) 11 (3rd Pacific)
Goals For 2.70 (T-12th) 2.70 (T-12th)
Goals Against 2.20 (9th) 2.80 (20th)
Power Play 19.4% (T-12th) 12.2% (24th)
Penalty Kill 89.3% (3rd) 83.8% (12th)
5v5 Corsi For 47.7% (24th) 46.4% (28th)
PDO 100.2 (19th) 103.0 (4th)

View from Vancouver

(For everything Vancouver Canucks related, check out Nucks Misconduct)

Despite predictions to the contrary over the summer, the sky has not fallen in Vancouver. The Canucks are off to a very respectable start, and are currently tied in points with the Los Angeles Kings for 1st in the Pacific Division (LA holds the tiebreaker on points percentage).

Early returns on Vancouver's off-season moves are positive. Brandon Sutter is tied for second on the team in points with seven, while Ryan Miller has a very respectable .923 save percentage in 10 starts this year.

Will Vancouver be able to keep it up? Perhaps. But their strong start, coupled with underwhelming performances from the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks so far, has given the Canucks new life this season.

View from Arizona

Arizona was able to survive the loss of Antoine Vermette before the game in Ottawa. They pull through Martin Hanzal's second period injury versus Toronto. But the loss of those two, combined with Connor Murphy's late scratch in Boston, led to a 6-0 pounding by the Bruins, in which the Coyotes simply looked out of gas.

The Coyotes already got a small reprieve with two days off, but are about to get a lot more. After this game, the Coyotes do not play again until Thursday, when they face the Colorado Avalanche. Arizona has had two breaks of three days or more in the first 30 days of the season.

Of all the players who might appreciate the break, Anthony Duclair is probably near the top of the list. After his torrid start to the season, Duclair is now pointless in his last four games. Most rookies eventually hit a wall, so Duclair slowing down is not unexpected. But hopefully the change of pace will help Duclair take a breath and refocus.

Keys to the Game

  • Pepper Richard Bachman - Ryan Miller will not be playing for the first time this season. Instead, it will be career backup Richard Bachman. The Coyotes need to give him a heavy workload, especially early on when he's more likely to be rusty.
  • Good Pinches - In Boston, Stefan Elliott was victimized by a poorly timed pinch. In Toronto, it was Zbynek Michalek. In both cases, Coyotes defensemen need to make sure their partner is in position to cover, and they need to get the shot on net.
  • 100% Effort - The Coyotes will get almost a week off after this game. There's no excuse to not go all out.

Player to Watch

Radim Vrbata only three goals on the year, but all three have come in his last four games. As Coyotes fans can undoubtedly attest, when he's hot, he's darn near unstoppable.

Speaking of hot streaks, Mikkel Boedker has four goals and two assists in his last five games. Arizona needs his offense in the worst way right now.

Injury Report

Vancouver is missing a few players for the medium to long term, with Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust, and Jacob Markstrom all out until at least late-November. Dan Hamhuis is likely to miss tonight's game, but won't be out for much longer than that.

Joe Vitale is on injured reserve for the Coyotes, Martin Hanzal is out. Connor Murphy and Antoine Vermette are expected to play.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on ESPN 620 AM.