The Canucks look to bounce back from last night's loss in Dallas with a win in the desert when they wrap-up their two-game road trip against the Arizona Coyotes.
If you're the glass half-full type, you'd have to marvel at the fact that through 10 games played the Canucks have picked up points in eight outings and have been competitive in each contest never losing by more than a single goal. If you're the glass half-empty type, however, you'd probably point out that in five of their six defeats this season they could have easily walked away victorious had it not been for some late collapses and blown leads. Last night's 4-3 overtime loss to the Stars is another such example of a game the Canucks clearly left points on the table after squandering a two-goal third period lead.
The Canucks hope to secure the full two points available to them tonight when they face a Coyotes team that has just two wins in their last seven games and has not scored a goal in 73 consecutive minutes of playing time after being blanked 6-0 by Boston in their last outing. Goaltender Richard Bachman, who has yet to make his Canucks debut, could finally see action for the first time tonight. This game marks the first time the Canucks will face former teammate Brad Richardson since he signed a three-year deal with the Coyotes this past summer.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
Since their improbable run to the Western Conference Final back in 2012, there has been very little reason to get excited about the Coyotes...that is until this season. After half a decade with very little in the way of must-see young prospects, the Coyotes welcomed a pair of blue-chippers to their roster this year in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. The kids have been alright so far as both Domi and Duclair are not only among the rookie point leaders in the league, but are leading the way for their own mostly veteran-laden team as well. It's hard to imagine where the Coyotes would be without those two youngsters considering the struggles of some of their more seasoned players, particularly a couple of the ones brought in specifically to bolster the offence in Steve Downie and Antoine Vermette. Downie, a former 40-point scorer who had 28 points with Pittsburgh last season, has just two assists so far and has been restricted to fourth-line duty. Vermette, a long-time Coyote who returned to the team in the summer after a brief stint with Chicago where he won a Stanley Cup, is point-less in seven outings.
One veteran the Coyotes desperately need to have a renaissance season this year is netminder Mike Smith. Last season, Smith became just the ninth goalie in NHL history to post 40 losses in a season and many felt the only reason he managed to hang on to his starter's gig was due to the albatross that is his massive multi-year contract signed back in the summer of 2013. He's clearly Coach Dave Tippett's go-to-guy starting nine of the Coyotes' first 10 games. He got off to a fantastic start winning his first three games while allowing just two combined goals in the process. Since then, however, he's posted just one victory in his last six starts (1-3-1, one no decision) and has allowed three-or-more goals in each of those games. Smith's struggles could force Tippett to give newcomer Anders Lindback more of an opportunity. Lindback was impressive in his first start as a Coyote posting a 35-save victory over the Senators six nights ago. The well-travelled Swede appeared in a career-high 26 games last season split between the Stars and Sabres.
Keys to the Game
Get the early jump. The Coyotes have not been able to respond well to adversity so far this season. They have yet to win a game when giving up the first goal, or when trailing by two-or-more at any point. The Canucks may be the tired team having played last night but they'll need to muster up some early energy in this one and take an early advantage.
The power play continues to sizzle. Since starting the season 1-for-20 on the man-advantage, the power play has been red hot going 4-for-11 (36.4 percent) over the last four games. Vancouver went 7-for-19 on the PP last season against the Coyotes en route to winning the season series.
Duclair gets back on track. Unlike fellow stud rookie Max Domi who has been steady with his point production, Anthony Duclair has hit a bit of a snag going point-less in four straight. No longer on a line with Domi, if Duclair can't produce on a second unit, Arizona becomes very much a one-line team.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Straight games the Canucks have entered the 3rd period with a lead. They have won just once (1-1-2).
Straight meetings for the Canucks against Coyotes without a regulation loss (3-0-1).
Season for Dave Tippett as Coyotes head coach, longest in franchise history.
Game (expected) tonight for Canucks rookie Jared McCann. After 10 games, year one of his entry-level contract kicks in.
Career wins as a Coyote for Mike Smith. Only 3 goalies have 100-plus wins for the franchise (Bryzgalov, Essensa, Khabibulin).
Consecutive games played by Coyotes' Antoine Vermette before the ironman streak was snapped on Saturday. Vermette is a game-time decision.