Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Coyotes (4.8.13)
Tonight's Game is presented by Save On Foods and IOGO:
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|Team Record: 21-11-6
Last Game: 5-2 W vs Calgary (APR.06.13)
Season Series: 1-1-0
Last Meeting: 2-1 W (MAR.21.13)
|Team Record: 17-15-6
Last Game: 4-0 W vs Colorado (APR.06.13)
Season Series: 1-1-0
Last Meeting: 1-2 L (APR.06.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (21-11-6) will try to sweep their three-game home stand which wraps up tonight when they play host the Phoenix Coyotes (17-15-6) at Rogers Arena.What You Need to Know
- Vancouver has won five consecutive games at Rogers Arena and two straight games overall coming into play tonight.
- Like the Canucks, the Coyotes come into play tonight on a roll as they have won three in a row to put themselves back into the playoff hunt.
- The Coyotes are beginning a three-game, Western Canada road swing tonight and they'll be looking to turn their fortunes away from home around. They've won just one of their last eight (1-4-3) games away from the Jobing.com Arena although, to their credit, they have earned points in three straight road outings entering tonight's contest.
- The Canucks had a team day off yesterday so any news on who starts in goal tonight won't be known until Monday morning at the earliest. However, given his recent body of work, it would be tough to bet against Cory Schneider getting his 11th straight start. Schneider has started both games in the season series against Phoenix so far posting a 1-1-0 record with a 2.02 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He stopped 33 of 34 shots in the last head-to-head meeting back on March 21 to help his team to a 2-1 win at the Jobing.com Arena.
- Coyotes G Mike Smith made his return to Phoenix's lineup on Saturday and marked the occasion by posting his fifth shutout of the season with a 24-save effort in a 4-0 win over the Avalanche. Smith had missed six consecutive games after being run over by Canucks D Alex Edler back on March 21. That incident ended up costing Edler a two-game suspension from the NHL.
- Tonight marks the third and final meeting between the Canucks and Coyotes this season. The series is tied at one win a piece with the road team being victorious in both games.
- The Coyotes team the Canucks face tonight will have a noticeably different look compared to the team they saw just over two weeks ago. Phoenix was relatively active on trade deadline day shipping away three veteran forwards in Steve Sullivan, Matthew Lombardi and one-time Canuck Raffi Torres.
- The Canucks begin play today sitting two points ahead of the Wild in the race for first place in the Northwest Division. Both teams have played 38 games to date. A win tonight would allow the Canucks to pull four points ahead of the idle Wild, who are off until Tuesday when they host the Blackhawks.
- The Coyotes begin play today sitting three points back of the Red Wings for the eighth-and-final playoff spot in the West. However, they have played one more game than the Red Wings.
- Coyotes F Antoine Vermette leads all players in the season series with three points (2-1-3). Canucks D Chris Tanev is the only Vancouver player with multiple points in the season series. He has one goal and one assist.
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on TSN. 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 continue to take advantage of home ice. The Canucks have been dominant in their recent string of five straight home wins. During that stretch, they've out-scored their opponents by a combined 16-5 count. Knowing they'll be facing a team that is terrible on the road, they'll especially want to make sure they utilize the friendly confines and the partisan crowd to its fullest advantage.
- The Sedins stay hot. Since being held off the scoresheet in San Jose a week ago, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have combined for two goals and nine points over their last two games. If they can continue to produce at that pace, there's very little reason why the Canucks won't walk away winners again tonight.
- They make things tough for Mike Smith. Phoenix's netminder had a relatively easy first game back from injury on Saturday as he faced just 24 shots in his shut out of the Avs. The Canucks will want to make life just a bit more challenging for him tonight and part of that will involve testing him more than Colorado managed to. Vancouver has done a good job of that so far in the season series netting a combined 63 combined shots over two games.
The Coyotes Win If...
- Smith comes up big (again). The Coyotes will be counting on their goaltender to be a difference maker not only tonight but every game from now to end of the season if they want to get back to the post-season. Smith's numbers aren't nearly as impressive as they were compared to what he managed last season but he's still shown he can put together strong performances and he'll definitely need one of those tonight against a Vancouver team that seems to be finding their scoring touch lately.
- They are mindful of Vancouver's offensive defensemen. Of the four goals the Coyotes have allowed in the season series, two of those have come off the stick of a defenseman. Phoenix has managed to be pretty tight defensively in the season series overall but they'll want to be sure they pay attention whenever the Canucks active their blue-liners.
- They play with playoff intensity. The Coyotes are in a fight for their playoff lives right now and, with just 10 games remaining and currently being on the outside looking in, every game is essentially a must-win for them. They'll need to use their desperation to their advantage tonight.
Ones to Watch
Alex Edler might want to be just a little more aware of his surroundings tonight because there may be a few Coyotes players out for some payback in response to the incident that occurred the last time Vancouver and Phoenix met.
Back on March 21, Edler took a healthy run at defenseless Coyotes' netminder Mike Smith behind the Phoenix net – a hit that ultimately forced Smith out of that game and have to miss close to three weeks of action. This will be the first time that Edler has faced the Coyotes since that incident.
For his part, the 26-year-old blue-liner will try not to think about possibly having a bull's-eye on his chest and just focus on playing his game which includes making an impact on offence. His goal against the on Saturday was his first point since his return from being suspended for that incident with Smith and was also his first goal in 10 outings. Edler has one assist in two games played against the Coyotes so far this season.
There were many people who thought Keith Yandle would not be a Coyote past the trade deadline but, much to the delight of the Coyotes' fans and in particular those who think they still have a shot at making the playoffs this season, the 26-year-old offensively-gifted blue-liner is still very much a part of the Desert Dogs.
Yandle has been enjoying another fine campaign on the scoreboard this season as he is among the top-scoring defensemen in the league with eight goals and 23 points. Four of his eight goals this season have come on the man-advantage which is especially positive for the Coyotes seeing as how he did not manage a single power play goal last season.
Yandle has had a hot hand lately as he comes into tonight's contest with three goals and eight points in his last nine outings. He has yet to record a point in the season series against the Canucks.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at email@example.com.