GAME DAY NOTES
The last time the Canucks played the Phoenix Coyotes, the desert dogs howled their way to a 3-2 shootout win. Vancouver is hoping for a different result tonight at GM Place.
The Canucks played a hard fought game against the Coyotes on December 29 and were defeated in the shootout after tying the game up late in the third period. Phoenix has 56 points with 26 wins, 24 losses, and four overtime wins. Vancouver has 53 points with 26 wins, 16 losses, and one overtime win. Tonight’s game is crucial for the Canucks so they can continue to move up in the Western conference standings.
"The game in Phoenix after Christmas, now that was a playoff atmosphere,” said Coach Rick Bowness. “They played a very physical game and we played a very physical game. So for the first meeting of two teams there was a lot of emotion in the game and on top of the structure we're going to see that emotion tonight too."
The Coyotes were almost dealt a loss on Tuesday against the Oilers, but managed to keep it together in overtime beating Edmonton 5-4. The Canucks had to work extremely hard for their win over Columbus on Tuesday night, and will have to work that much harder tonight against the Coyotes.
"We got to be prepared for these guys, they're playing really well and the Western Conference is obviously very tight with points and these are the ones where you can make a little difference,” said Mason Raymond. “They're a hard working team, they pressure all over the ice. It'll be important to make the right plays in the right areas and we have to be prepared for it."
Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt will play his first game at General Motors Place since signing with Phoenix as a free agent last year. Pyatt previously played three seasons for the Canucks. He scored 49 goals for them, including his career-high of 23 in 2006-07. He now has 11 points with seven goals and four assists.
The Canucks hope to come out strong against the Coyotes and their forceful defence and high scorer Shane Doan, who has been scoring an average of a point per game in his last nine and has 28 points (12-16-28) this season. On Tuesday night against the Oilers, Doan scored two goals which helped their victory over Edmonton.
"Shots create scrambles so you can't get inside of these defensive zones and look to make pretty plays, they're just not there,” said Bowness. “What you have to have is a shot mentality and you have to use your points a lot and they have to be ready to shoot the puck."
Pavol Demitra (shoulder) and Ryan Johnson (foot) remain out of the line-up because of injury.
SAMUELSSON SURGES ON
Mikael Samuelsson, who was recently left out from the 2010 Winter Olympics Swedish team, hasn’t let it affect him and instead has scored three goals in his last four games.
"He's been playing really well, scoring some good goals for us,” said Roberto Luongo. “Sometimes it takes a little something to get you going and hopefully he keeps producing like he has."
Samuelsson scored in the second period against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, making it his 13th goal this season. Whether or not recent events have caused Samuelsson to have ‘something to prove’, he is no doubt contributing to the Canucks in their recent wins.
"I think I've played an okay season so far,” said Samuelsson. “I had a slump there for ten games or something like that. Otherwise, you always have something to prove I guess. I'm just happy I'm back on track a little bit."
Samuelsson has 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points to sit sixth in Canucks team scoring.