The Vancouver Canucks (26-17-9) play host to the Phoenix Coyotes (24-18-9) at Rogers Arena tonight.
The Canucks are looking to rebound from Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Nashville which was just the second outright loss for the Canucks in their past 13 games on home ice (8-2-3).
Chris Higgins scored the team’s lone goal in the loss – his 13th of the season which ties him with Daniel Sedin for second in Canucks goal-scoring. All 13 of Higgins’ goals this season have come at even-strength. Dale Weise has assists in each of the past two games.
Roberto Luongo continues to shine in goal. Luongo stopped 24 of 26 shots against the Predators and has denied 83 of 88 shots (94.3%) in three starts since returning from an ankle injury.
With Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli out with injuries (both suffered in the last meeting with the Coyotes), Ryan Kesler has been busy lately logging 26:30 vs CGY, 26:14 at EDM and 25:20 vs NAS – three of his top six ice-times of the season.
The Canucks are likely to dress seven defensemen tonight allowing Yannick Weber to return to the line-up to man one of the points on the power play. The Canucks need a boost in that department going 2/30 (6.7%) in their past eight games. At 14.3% for the season, the team’s power play has now dropped to 28th in the NHL.
With just eight goals in their past seven games, the Canucks need someone to step up in the scoring department. Alex Burrows has now gone 20 games without a goal, David Booth (13), Alex Edler (12), Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen (11), Brad Richardson (10) and Jason Garrison (7).
The Canucks and Coyotes have faced-off three times already this season. Phoenix leads the season series 2-0-1 (5pts) to 1-1-1 (3pts). The ‘Yotes blanked the Canucks 1-0 in Glendale on January 16th. No team has scored more than two goals in regulation in any of the three meetings so far this season.
Phoenix starts into the night four points back of the Canucks in the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings. The Coyotes arrive in town on the heels of a 4-3 win in Edmonton on Friday night. That snapped a two-game losing streak. Phoenix is 4-8 in the month of January.
Mike Smith has started seven straight games. He is second to San Jose’s Antii Niemi in minutes played and games started this season and leads the NHL in shots faced (1349) and saves made (1228). However, he’s also given-up a league-high 121 goals.
The Coyotes have scored more than 3 goals in a game just three times in their past 16 outings – all against the Alberta teams (EDM twice & CGY once). Mike Ribeiro has 2+2=4 on a three game point streak and after scoring on Friday in Edmonton is sitting on 199 career NHL goals. Antoine Vermette has three goals in his past five games.
The Coyotes scoring is spread through the line-up with six players stacked between 12-15 goals and five players sitting with between 33-36 points on the season.