Whatever good fortune the Arizona Coyotes had to start off the season is long gone. In its place is a frustrating series of close losses and missed chances.
After yet another agonizing loss on Monday night in Colorado, the Arizona Coyotes travel north of the border to play the Vancouver Canucks.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||Vancouver Canucks|
|Points||62 (5th Pacific)||62 (4th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.64 (17th)||2.35 (T-27th)|
|Goals Against||3.12 (30th)||2.85 (T-21st)|
|Power Play||18.2% (T-18th)||18.2% (T-18th)|
|Penalty Kill||77.5% (26th)||81.4% (T-12th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||47.2% (T-27th)||47.2% (T-27th)|
|PDO||100.2 (14th)||99.6 (T-18th)|
View from Arizona
Maybe the two pieces of good news out of Monday night's game were Boyd Gordon's first goal of the season and the fact that Mikkel Boedker didn't score against his former team.
The biggest storyline may be the injury Oliver Ekman-Larsson sustained during the game. An awkward collision with the boards sent him off the ice favoring his shoulder. He's still considered day-to-day, which is good news for his long-term health.
Still, the injury comes during a time where Arizona does not have a whole lot to play for. The playoffs are out of range, and it's not as though there are a ton of roster spots to audition for. The best case scenario for the Coyotes at this point is to exit the season without any serious injuries, and maybe a few extra starts for Mike Smith to get his groove back before the offseason.
View from Vancouver
For the Canucks' perspective, be sure to check out Nucks Misconduct
If fans of the Arizona Coyotes aren't pleased with the direction their team is trending, they can take solace in the fact that they aren't fans of the Vancouver Canucks.
Canucks Army has a excellent breakdown of the problem in Canuckland, and it starts at the top: Canucks' upper-management committed itself to "retooling on the fly" based on the caliber of its team. So far, they don't appear to have a good sense of how good their team really is (a problem that should remind Coyotes fans of the 2014-15 preseason).
As a result, Vancouver's aging core of Daniel and Henrik Sedin don't appear to be getting much help soon. Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis were inexplicably not moved at the Trade Deadline. Brandon Sutter - arguably the team's premier acquisition this summer - has played only 20 games. And unlike the Coyotes - who have Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak on the horizon - there really isn't anybody in the system that has game-changing potnential. Vancouver is stuck in a very uncomfortable position, with not a whole lot to look forward to next year.
Keys to the Game
1. Keep Up the Discipline - Arizona took only two penalties against the Avalanche on Monday night. By and large, that is a recipe for success.
2. Outrun the Canucks - Some of Vancouver's speedier players may not dress tonight. Even if they all were to play, the Coyotes should have a mismatch in their favor when it comes to quickness. They need to exploit it.
3. Quick Puck Movement - Arizona is best able to create offense on its blue-line by moving the puck rapidly around to draw defenders away from their assignments. The beset way to give Michael Stone or Kevin Connauton a shooting lane is to keep the puck away from them until the last moment.
Players to Watch
Antoine Vermette had a monster goal and three assist performance in Arizona's 5-1 victory over Florida on Saturday. Despite the brutal start to the year, Vermette is approaching his career averages during his time in Arizona.
Vancouver only has three players with 30 or more points this season. The top two are probably obvious, but number three is Jannik Hansen, who will likely break the 20 goal barrier for the first time in his career this year.
Arizona will not have Joe Vitale or Anders Lindback, who are both done for the season. Mike Smith is not expected back until later this month. Both Oliver-Ekman Larsson and Zbynek Michalek are considered questionable for tonight's game, while Kyle Chipchura is expected back after missing Monday's game to be at the birth of his first child.
Brandon Sutter is not expected back until April, while Alexander Edler and Henrik Sedin do not have timetables for return. Jannik Hansen is unlikely to play tonight, while Christopher Tanev is considered questionable.
Tonight's game begins at 8 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or listen on 92.3 FM.