The Vancouver Canucks visit Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes tonight for a battle between two of the Western Conference’s hottest teams. The Canucks are 5-0-1 over their last six games, while the Coyotes have won six of their last seven contests. Below are five keys to tonight’s clash of Western Conference powers.
The Canucks have struggled to score first this season, giving the Coyotes an easy opportunity to lock the game down early tonight in Phoenix. The Coyotes are 5-0-0 when leading after the first period this season, and will be counting on Mike Smith to shut the door if given an early lead.
While the Canucks have pulled off a few early comebacks already this season they certainly won’t like their chances down against Dave Tippett’s Coyotes.
The threesome lead the Canucks in scoring this season, and have been dominant since John Tortorella inserted Kesler into Alex Burrows‘ traditional role earlier in the year.
Henrik Sedin carries a personal 11-game point streak into tonight’s action.
Both the Canucks and Coyotes have enjoyed some solid offensive output from their blue line so far this season, and tonight’s contest should showcase both teams’ ability to jump up in the rush.
Jason Garrison leads the Canucks with 9 points through 16 games played this season, while Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson lead the Coyotes with 11 points.
Look for the D-men the get aggressive tonight in Phoenix.
Roberto Luongo will look to continue his unbeaten streak tonight following a solid 21-save shutout performance Saturday against the Leafs. Luongo was hardly busy over the weekend, but can expect a heavier workload tonight in Phoenix. The Canucks have allowed 35.5 shots against per game while the Coyotes are generating 31.3 shots per game so far this season.
The Coyotes will put their seven-game home unbeaten streak on the line tonight against the visiting Canucks.
The visitors are 4-0-3 over their last seven games in the desert, and will need to take advantage of a split crowd tonight in Phoenix.
While the Coyotes will still have the home crowd on their side tonight I expect a good number of transplanted Canadians to infiltrate Jobing.com arena to support the visitors.