Vancouver has had great success against the Coyotes this season as they have beaten them three times and out scored them 10-3 in those games. Can the Coyotes get their first win against the Canucks and head into the All-Star Break with a bang?
View From Vancouver
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The Vancouver Canucks have had a season of ups and downs this year. After winning their first four games they proceeded to lose nine in a row and have been battling for a wild card spot all season long. Currently they have a one-point lead over Calgary for the final wild card spot in the West.
The Canucks have three wins in their last four games, capping that off with a victory over Colorado last night. For a team that many say need to rebuild they are not going down without a fight this season. Once again Vancouver is led on offense by the dynamic duo of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The Swedish twins rank first and third on the team with 32 and 27 points respectively. But the Canucks have struggled on offense this season as they only average a measly 2.3 goals per game.
The Canucks have rotated goaltenders pretty evenly this season and with Jacob Markstrom getting the start last night against Colorado the Coyotes will face a familiar foe in Ryan Miller tonight. When the NHL schedule is released Miller most likely circles the dates for when he plays Arizona and for good reason. When facing the Coyotes, the American net minder has a 11-1-0 record with a 1.40 GAA which is the lowest against any team he has faced in his entire career.
View From Arizona
The Arizona Coyotes are currently riding a two game winning streak which sadly is tied for a season high. With fourteen goals in their last four games things may finally be starting to click for the offense which ranks 29th in the league with 2.1 goals per game.
One of the bright spots over the last few weeks has been newly acquired forward Alexander Burmistrov who has recorded five assists in his first five games with the Coyotes. Burmistrov is a former eighth overall pick but could never put it together with the Jets/Thrashers organization. He is still relatively young and has a chance to thrive in the desert for an offensively starved team. Also Christian Fischer has stormed into the league recording two goals in his first two career games and so far seems to be a good replacement for Anthony Duclair while he looks to get back on track in Tucson.
The Coyotes have a really chance to head into the All-Star Break with their heads held high. A win tonight would put them on a season high three game winning streak and would be the perfect send off for All-Star Mike Smith. He hasn’t put up eye popping numbers this season but what goalie has while playing for a team in the bottom of the standings. Mike Smith is just the third different goalie in Coyotes history to be named to the All Star game and the first since Sean Burke in 2002. Smith has kept the Coyotes in many games this year and seemingly bails out the team almost every night. This All Star appearance is well deserved.
1. Will Christian Fischer score again? - Throughout Juniors and the AHL Fischer has had a knack for lighting up the lamp and he seems to have carried that over to the big leagues. The young forward has taken two shots in his first two NHL and has recorded two goals, a pretty remarkable feat if you ask me. Will he be able to do it again tonight?
2. Will the Coyotes finally beat Ryan Miller? - Like I mentioned earlier wins are hard to come by for the Coyotes when they face Miller and it won’t be any easier tonight. He has been on fire over the last thirty days posting seven wins in ten games with a 1.67 GAA. With only one win in twelve games against him the coyotes may just need a little luck on their side tonight.
3. Will the Canucks find road success tonight? - With the seventh best home record in the league the Canucks are more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to playing on the road verse playing at home. They have only managed six wins on the road and if they want to stay in contention for the wild card spot they must improve on that record.
Players to Watch
Vancouver - Bo Horvat - The young center is one of the Canucks best up and coming players and after his first full season in the NHL last year he is really showing why Vancouver drafted him with the 9th overall pick in 2013. Horvat leads the Canucks in Goals with 14 and is only second to Henrik Sedin in assists with 18. He also has a habit of finding him self on the scoring sheet when plays the Coyotes. In 11 career games he has three goals and four assists.
Arizona - Alexander Burmistrov - I mentioned him earlier in the article but over the years Arizona has had some luck with acquiring ex first round picks. Players like Lauri Korpikoski, Gilbert Brule, Boyd Gordon, and even Kyle Chipchura were all former first round picks that experienced success to an extent here in the desert. With five points in his first five games and playing away from the Canadian media spotlight. Burmistrov may finally have a chance to live up to his potential.
Vancouver - The Canucks have no new players on the injury report but they are expecting forward Janik Hansen and D-man Ben Hutton to be fully recovered from their injuries and back on the ice some time next month.
Arizona - The Coyotes may be without two key players in tonights tilt against the Canucks. Captain and Forward Shane Doan suffered an upper body injury and is questionable for tonight. Also forward Jordan Martinook who did not play during the Coyotes victory over Florida is also questionable for tonights game with an upper body injury.
Tonights game starts at 7:00 PM Arizona time. You can watch it on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or tune into ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.