Game 64: Canucks at Coyotes (3.4.14)
With the Olympics in the books and the Heritage Classic now a thing of the past, the next major hockey event that fans have circled on their calendars are the start of the playoffs. Unfortunately if the Canucks continue to go down the path they are currently on, there isn't going to be any NHL post-season hockey locally in Vancouver. The Canucks' swoon continued on Sunday on a national television across Canada and the United States when they fell 4-2 to the Senators in the Heritage Classic at BC Place. Sunday's game might not have been a must-win for the Canucks but you'd have to believe tonight's contest is. The Coyotes happen to be one of the teams the Canucks are trying to fight off in the race for a playoff spot. Vancouver leads Phoenix by a single point in the standings but the Coyotes have played two fewer games.
The Coyotes are in a bit of a swoon as well as they come into tonight's contest riding a four-game winless streak, including dropping a 4-2 decision to the Blues on Sunday to begin a three-game home stand. This is the fifth and final meeting between the Canucks and Coyotes. They've split the first four meetings with the home team coming out on top each time. The Canucks will have to make do for the foreseeable future without top line sniper Daniel Sedin. Sedin suffered a leg injury in the second period of Sunday's loss to Ottawa and is not on the trip with the team. Darren Archibald was recalled from Utica (AHL) yesterday presumably to take Sedin's spot in the lineup. Eddie Lack be back between the pipes again tonight after expected starter Roberto Luongo was dealt to the Florida Panthers late on Tuesday afternoon.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Lack gets over the shock. Eddie Lack was expected to back-up tonight's game but he'll get his fourth consecutive start in place of the traded Roberto Luongo. He'll have to find a way today's news aside and treat tonight's game as just a normal start
Play like you want to be here (or not). With tomorrow's trade deadline looming, this is the final chance for certain players to make a statement either to their current team or perhaps another team that has been watching them intently. A strong performance here might be the difference between changing addresses or staying put on Wednesday.
Try scoring at even-strength. In their last five outings, the Coyotes have scored six power play goals. That's the good news. The bad is that they've only managed three even-strength goals over that same stretch. A good power play can put you over the top but, as the Coyotes have learned the hard way of late, they still need to score 5-on-5 to be successful.
By the Numbers
Point needed by Coyotes' D-man Oliver-Ekman Larsson to reach 100 career points.
Point needed by Alex Burrows to reach 300 career points.
Straight games the Coyotes have scored three-or-fewer goals.
Straight games the Canucks have scored three-or-fewer goals.
Straight regular season games played and counting without a goal for Alex Burrows.
Career games played for Coyotes' captain Shane Doan including tonight. He'll soon be the 56th player to join the 1,300 games played club.