Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Coyotes (3.21.13)
|Team Record: 14-9-6
Last Game: 3-2 W vs St. Louis (MAR.19.13)
Season Series: 0-1-0
Last Meeting: 2-4 L (FEB.26.13)
|Team Record: 13-13-4
Last Game: 2-3 L at Los Angeles (MAR.19.13)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Last Meeting: 4-2 W (FEB.26.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (14-9-6) will open a short three-game, four-day road trip tonight at the Jobing.com Arena when they face the slumping Phoenix Coyotes (13-13-4).What You Need to Know
- Tonight's game features a clash of two teams that have been struggling recently. The Canucks, despite coming off a 3-2 win on Tuesday over the Blues to close out their home stand, have just four wins in their last 12 outings (4-6-2). The Coyotes, meanwhile, are coming off a winless four-game road swing (0-3-1) which included dropping back-to-back games at the Staples Center against the Kings to close out the trip.
- If you think the Canucks have struggled scoring lately, that pales in comparison to the scoring woes of the Coyotes. On their recent four-game trip, they were out-scored by a combined 10-2 and were blanked in the first three games of the trip. In fact, they set a new franchise record for longest streak without a goal at 245:33 before finally snapping that drought on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
- The Canucks scored a 2-1 shootout win in Columbus in their last road outing – a victory that snapped a four-game road winless streak (0-3-1). Their overall record this season away from Rogers Arena is 6-4-3.
- The road may not have been kind to the Coyotes lately but home ice sure has. Phoenix is riding a two-game home ice win streak and will be looking to stretch that to a season-high three games tonight. They've also won four of their last five games at the Jobing.com Arena (4-1-0).
- The Canucks have earned points in their last six straight visits to Phoenix (3-0-3). They haven't suffered an outright loss at the Jobing.com Arena since March 21, 2009. Their last three blemishes there have all been shootout defeats.
- Tonight marks the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Coyotes this season. It's also the first and only visit this season for the Canucks to the Jobing.com Arena. In their first meeting of the season back on February 26, Coyotes F Kyle Chipchura scored twice to lead Phoenix to a 4-2 win. Canucks G Cory Schneider made just 18 saves in the loss.
- Coyotes forwards Kyle Chipchura (2-0-2), Mikkel Boedker (1-1-2) and Antoine Vermette (1-1-2) each had two points in the first meeting of the season against the Canucks. No Canuck managed to record more than one point that night.
- Canucks F Zack Kassian's return to the lineup appears to be short-lived as he re-aggravated his back injury in the first period of Tuesday's win and is back to being day-to-day. He did not accompany the team to begin this trip. F Tom Sestito is also a question mark as well with an undisclosed injury.
- The Canucks come into tonight's game sitting in sixth-place in the NHL's Western Conference standings and trailing the division-leading Wild by two points. They are four points ahead of the Coyotes who are currently tied for ninth place.
- Coyotes G Mike Smith, who will be the likely starter tonight, is riding a season-high four-game winless streak (0-3-1). He has started the last seven games in a row for Phoenix.
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on Sportsnet Pacific. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks Win If...
- They build a lead. It doesn't take a genius to figure that it's much easier to win when you've got a lead as opposed to when you're trying to play catch up all the time. It's even more critical for the Canucks when you consider they're 10-1-1 this season in games where they've held a lead of two goals or more. Vancouver did not hold a lead at any point in their 4-2 loss to the Coyotes back on February 26.
- Cory gets on a roll. After a string of mediocre performances by Vancouver netminders in recent outings, Schneider's 32-save effort on Tuesday against the Blues was certainly a performance that both he and the team can build on. The Canucks won't want to come out flat like they did on Tuesday but, if they do have a few lapses during the game, it's important for them to know that their goaltender can bail them out.
- They don't get out-worked. Both the Canucks and the Coyotes should be desperate for a win tonight given their respective recent struggles. That being said, Vancouver has to be the team to show that desperation early on and be ready to compete as opposed to allowing the Coyotes to dictate the pace of the game as they did in their last head-to-head clash.
The Coyotes Win If...
- Their offense awakes from its slumber. For the first time in over a week the Coyotes' offense actually has something to build off of from their previous game thanks to Shane Doan's two-goal third period in their loss to the Kings on Tuesday. They'll hope that sudden, yet much-needed outburst is a sign of things to come for a team that actually had been on a roll offensively scoring 40 combined 12 outings just prior to their recent four-game scoring funk.
- Their power play makes an impact. The Coyotes' power play slump isn't quite as epic as the Canucks' but it sure hasn't been much better. Since starting the season with 10 goals on 44 opportunities (22.7 percent) over their first 11 games, they've only managed to score six goals on 65 opportunities (9.2 percent) in their past 19 games which includes failing to record a power play goal in their last four straight outings. Getting this part of their game back on track would certainly be a big boost for an overall slumping offence.
- They keep the twins quiet. The Canucks, clearly, haven't been at the top of their game lately but the Sedins have still been pretty steady as far as their point production goes. The Coyotes will want to pay particular attention to Vancouver's top duo who comes into tonight's game with a combined three goals and eight points over their last four outings.
Ones to Watch
Maybe a short stint on the farm was exactly what Jordan Schroeder needed to get his offensive confidence back.
The 22-year-old was sent back to Chicago (AHL) two Mondays ago and responded to the demotion by netting four points (1-3-4) in three games with the Wolves during the week he spent there – a stint good enough to earn him a recall to Vancouver just one week later with the Canucks running into recent injury problems. On Tuesday against the Blues, Schroeder got an opportunity to play in a top-six forward role and he made the most of it by snapping a nine-game point-less streak he had at the NHL level with an assist on the eventual game-winning goal scored by Dale Weise.
Schroeder has a chance tonight to build on Tuesday's outing and record points in consecutive points for the first time in his NHL career. He will also be looking to record points against the Coyotes for the first time as well.
It's taken a few seasons for Mikkel Boedker to develop into a consistent point producer at the NHL level but he seems to have finally blossomed into that role this year.
The 23-year-old, who was originally a first-round pick of the Coyotes back in 2008, not only leads all Phoenix players this season in points with 19 but, for the most part, has also avoided lengthy point droughts which had plagued him in the early part of his NHL career. He has been in a bit of a funk lately, however, with just three points (2-1-3) in his last nine outings.
Boedker had a strong night in his first outing against the Canucks this season netting a goal and drawing an assist on the game-winner in his team's 4-2 win back on February 26. Those two points were Boedker's first career points against the Canucks in 10 all-time games.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.