Gameday skate: Canucks host Coyotes in Pacific Division showdown

Yotes in Town

Canucks gameday links: NWSB Matchup Insight | NWSB Preview + Prediction

The Vancouver Canucks host the Phoenix Coyotes in a pivotal Pacific Division battle tonight at Rogers Arena. With only four points separating the two teams tonight is a critical four point game between the Canucks and Coyotes as they jockey for position in the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff race.

Playoff Potential

The Vancouver Canucks currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference but with only four points between them and the ninth place Coyotes tonight’s matchup is a critical one for both teams. The Coyotes hold a game in hand and can clinch the season series tonight after taking two of the first three games against the Canucks this season.

Hunting For Hanzal

Martin Hanzal will be public enemy number one tonight at Rogers Arena after injuring three Canucks during the Coyotes’ 1-0 win earlier this month. Hanzal forced Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli, and David Booth to leave the game January 19th in Phoenix and can expect extra John Tortorella’s truculent team to respond with a physical game tonight as they look for revenge on home ice. Despite the distraction of personal revenge the Canucks need to focus getting even via the scoreboard tonight at Rogers Arena.

luongo coyotes canucks

The Coyotes have been red-hot against the Canucks of late

Canucks Can’t Score

The Canucks will have to get their offensive game going tonight if they are to get even with Martin Hanzal and the Coyotes. The Canucks have been held to one goal or fewer in seven straight games heading into tonight’s matchup including a shutout loss to the Coyotes earlier in the month. Without Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli in the lineup tonight would certainly be an opportune moment for Alex Burrows to bump the slump with his first goal of the season.

Canada In The Crease

Tonight’s goaltending matchup will feature Roberto Luongo opposite Mike Smith representing two thirds of Canada’s contingent in the crease headed to Sochi. Luongo has been solid since returning from an ankle injury but hasn’t received much run support from Vancouver’s skaters as they struggle to score. Smith has been solid against the Canucks this season, stopping 89 of 94 shots faced including a 29-save shutout performance earlier this month.

Power Play Problems

It is no secret that the Vancouver Canucks have struggled on the power play this season, but in the middle of a team-wide scoring slump the Canucks need to make the most of their opportunities 5-on-4. The Canucks are 2 for 12 on the power play through three games against the Coyotoes this season, but will need to compete with a Coyotes special teams unit that has converted 9 of their last 34 power play chances heading into tonight’s game.

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About Kevin Vanstone

Born in Vancouver, and a student at UVIC. "The Flying V" follows all things Canucks hockey and covers the best in CIS athletics around the Pacific Northwest. He loves to write about the athletes that used to show him up in his playing days.
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