The NHL All-Star Game is over, and the Arizona Coyotes are back in action tonight. Tonight will be the first game of a road back-to-back facing off against the two Pacific Northwestern teams, with tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Arizona played in a back-to-back last week, and the results were mixed. They stunned the NHL with a surprise upset win over the Colorado Avalanche in the shootout, only to fall to the Calgary Flames the next night.
It was another tough loss for the Coyotes, which doesn’t have an easy solution. We are over halfway through the season at this point, this is the Coyotes team we are going to get.
The biggest bright spot of last week’s game may have been the continued performance of the Coyotes’ new top line. Head Coach André Tourigny’s experiment of Alex Galchenyuk centering Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz seems to be working beautifully, and both Keller and Galchenyuk netted goals against the Flames.
Fortunately for the Coyotes, they don’t have the most challenging competition on this week’s road trip. The Canucks are the second-worst team in the Pacific Division, despite having played more games than two of the teams in front of them. They aren’t as bad as the lowly Seattle Kraken, but the Flames have six more points in four fewer games.
That’s not to say the Coyotes should take Canucks lightly. They will be a well-rested team, and they had a few impressive wins last month.
Vancouver is 4-3-3 in their last ten games, with wins over the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, and Washington Capitals. They also took the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to overtime and fell to the Florida Panthers in the shootout. That is an impressive record against some very good to decent teams and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Like the Coyotes, the Canucks do not score a lot. They are a bottom-five team in goals scored despite having played in close to the most games. They give up far fewer goals than the Desert Dogs though, but being top-ten in goals-against hasn’t helped them climb the standings yet.
Arizona does have a rare advantage going into tonight’s game, Vancouver somehow has a worse penalty kill than the Coyotes. The Canuck’s penalty kill is dead last in the league, only killing 69.9 percent of power plays. Vancouver is 14th in penalties taken this season, so tonight should prove to be an excellent chance for the Coyotes to get their struggling power play going.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller returns from the All-Star Break looking to extend his six-game point streak. The young forward has been providing much of the Coyotes’ offense the past few weeks and is on pace to set career-highs in goals and points.
Vancouver: Oliver Ekman-Larsson - OEL had a goal in his last game, his third of the season. But if this season has taught us anything, it’s that former Coyotes tend to have good nights against the Desert Dogs.
Arizona: Scott Wedgewood (chest), Johan Larsson (hernia), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Vancouver: Elias Pettersson (illness), Tucker Poolman (undisclosed), Quinn Hughes (COVID-19 protocol), Matthew Highmore (COVID-19 protocol), Kyle Burroughs (lower body), Travis Hamonic (lower body), Michael Ferland (concussion), Brandon Sutter (illness), Brady Keeper (leg)
Tonight’s game will be in Vancouver, starting at 8:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona Plus and 98.7 FM.