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Coyotes vs. Canucks Preview: Coyotes look to best Canucks on Canada Night

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Coyotes look to celebrate Canada Night by conquering the Canucks.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes will look to improve their record against divisional opponents as they take on the Vancouver Canucks for the fourth time this season.

The Canucks are fresh off a 3-1 win over the Avalanche while the Coyotes are coming in four days removed from a 5-2 slaughter at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.

Matchup at a Glance


Arizona Coyotes

Vancouver Canucks

Points

54 (4th Pacific)

52 (5th Central)

Goals For

2.65 (T-11th)

2.31 (26th)

Goals Against

3.10 (29th)

2.73 (22th)

Power Play

18.0% (T-18th)

17.0% (26th)

Penalty Kill

76.8% (29th)

80.5% (16th)

5v5 Corsi For

46.61% (28th)

46.99% (26th)

PDO

101.0% (5th)

100.0% (T-16th)

View from Arizona

To say that the Coyotes have had a rough stretch of games over the past few weeks is an understatement. In their last 10 games the Coyotes are 2-6-2. While there have been a couple of close games in the mix, there have also been blow-outs including a 6-2 loss to the LA Kings and a 5-2 loss to both the Jets and the Ducks.

If you've been a Coyotes fan for any reasonable amount of time the team that is currently being displayed on the ice should not look unfamiliar. The shaky goaltending being display by both Louis Domingue and Anders Lindback are oddly reminiscent of years past when the team began it's trudge to the bottom of the standings. Pair that with young offense and unreliable defense, and well...it doesn't look pretty.

Despite being knocked out of the third spot in the Pacific Division a few games back, the Coyotes are not out of the race for a playoff spot quite yet. If they somehow manage to pull themselves together and play the level of hockey they were before they began this slow skid in mid-January they could rise to grab that spot again.

But a huge key to this is going to be not only winning, but clinching the games that matter. Games against divisional rivals. With once the best record against division teams in the NHL the Coyotes have managed to go 2-3-0 in their past five match-ups against their own division. If the Yotes look to keep their playoff dreams alive, games like tonight against the Canucks, who are only two points behind, are going to be do or die.

View from Vancouver

For the Vancouver perspective, check out Nucks Misconduct.

Vancouver and Arizona are not uncommon foes. Not only do they face each other five times during the regular season but they also seem to always be jostling with each other for a playoffs spot in the Pacific Division. The Canucks are currently on their annual "Mom's Trip" so they will look to play hard and win.

The first game of their back-to-back was brutal and resulted in a lot of players not returning to the ice. But it also resulted in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. After a physical game and the last stop on the trip with their mothers there is no doubt the Canucks will be looking to steal two points before heading back to Canada. Jacob Markstrom was a solid force in net for the Canucks but it is possible they turn to Ryan Miller in the second game of the back to back.

Keys to the Game

  • Keep momentum swings in-check. If there's one thing that becomes apparent when watching a Coyotes game it's how susceptible the team is to momentum swings. If a goal is scored in their favor, or they're leading they often become sloppy as they try to over work the puck and pull off something fancy. If a goal is scored against they automatically look like they are chasing. This needs to stop if the Coyotes look to win. They will need consistent energy and effort, and level minds the entire game.

  • Special Teams. In the game against Chicago the Coyotes gave up their 10th short-handed goal of the season, which is the most allowed by any team in the league. Defense has been struggling on the PK, while offense has been taking too much time to shoot the puck on the PP. In addition to that the Coyotes have taken to taking untimely penalties that more often than not prove fatal.

  • Goaltending. Once looked at like a savior when it was announced that Mike Smith would be out for the foreseeable future Domingue is now facing harsh reality, and as a result so are the Coyotes. When your defense is less than stellar it is important that your goaltending be as crisp as possible and that is not what has been on display in the crease from either Domingue or Lindback. It is uncertain who will start at this time but either will need to be on his game.

Player to Watch

Shane Doan. The captain of the Coyotes has already hit several milestones only a little over halfway into this season and he's close to achieving something else. With only one more point from tying Dale Hawerchuk for all time points scored by a Coyote. It's safe to say that he will break this record this season but the captain is who to keep your eyes on.

Bo Horvat.  Since scoring only his third goal of the season the last time the Canucks faced the Coyotes Horvat has had 15 points in his last 14 games, tallying 7 more goals. Horvat will no doubt look to continue to get on the score sheet.

Injury Report

Boyd Gordon has been listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury after blocking a shot in the game against Chicago. Tyler Gaudet has taken his place on the roster for now. Mike Smith is still on IR though he is nearing the end of his 6-8 week time table, and has yet to return to practice. Joe Vitale is also sidelined with a concussion.

Brandon Sutter took a puck to the face in the game last night against the Avs and Alexander Edler also left the game after reportedly getting hit on the ankle by a puck. Both are considered doubtful for tonight's game.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 7:30pm Arizona Time at Gila River Arena and will be featured on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and ESPN 620 AM.