Under normal circumstances, a late season match-up against a divisional opponent that you're tied with in the standings would mean plenty of playoff implications. Unfortunately the uphill climb may be too great for the Canucks and Coyotes, both of whom sit 10 points out of a Wildcard spot to begin the day. In all likelihood, only the winner of tonight's season series finale can realistically continue the push to try and get into the post-season.
Expect the Canucks and Coyotes to be heavily reliant on their youngsters to lead the way tonight with both clubs missing several key veterans. Vancouver continues to be without top-line centre Henrik Sedin top defenceman Chris Tanev among others, while Arizona will likely be missing star blue-liner Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was injured in their 3-1 loss to Colorado on Monday. After Ryan Miller was in net for Monday's 5-1 loss to Los Angeles, don't be surprised to see Jacob Markstrom back between the pipes tonight for the Canucks.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
Keys to the Game
Turn the power back on.Before being stifled by the Kings on Monday (0-for-5), Vancouver's power play was on quite a roll clicking at 34.6 percent (9-for-26) over the nine games prior. Facing a team that has struggled on the PK, the Canucks need to take advantage.
Oy Vey.There's no better motivation than when your coach suggests your career could be on the line. That's the situation Linden Vey finds himself in. The makeshift top-line centre in Henrik's absence has turned in some solid performances lately but he'll need to continue doing so especially with the benefit of playing alongside Daniel Sedin.
Beware the youngsters.So far in the season series, it's the Canucks young guns that have been doing the most offensive damage with goals coming from the likes of McCann, Gaunce, Horvat, and Virtanen. The Coyotes will want to make sure they don't let those guys keep running unchecked.
By the Numbers
Point for Radim Vrbata against his former team this season. Last season, he had 4 points in 5 games.
Game point streak for Dan Hamhuis (2-2-4), his longest since a 3-game streak from Dec. 22-30, 2013.
Players who share the season series lead in points with 3 each: H. Sedin, Tanev, Vermette, and Rieder.
Goalies who have appeared so far in the season series: Miller, Markstrom, Bachman, Domingue, Lindback, and Smith.
Percent win rate for the team that opens the scoring in each game in the season series.
Career games played by Shane Doan after he suits up tonight, moving him past Teemu Selanne into sole possession of 23rd on the all-time list.
- About three weeks ago, the Coyotes were still in the chase for a playoff spot sitting four points out of a Wildcard position on February 18. Since then, the Coyotes have won just one of their last nine games which included a seven-game losing skid virtually assuring there will be no playoff hockey in the desert for the fourth straight year.
- Goalie Louis Domingue, who was lights out earlier in the season when he emerged on the scene to take over the number one job from an injured Mike Smith, has fallen down to earth lately. He's managed just one win in his last eight starts and has allowed three-or-more goals in six of those outings posting a save percentage of .898 (27 goals on 266 shots).
- In fairness, Domingue hasn't gotten much goal support. In their last nine outings, the Coyotes have scored just 18 goals – that includes a four-goal outing against the Blues and a five-goal explosion against the Panthers. If you take those games out, their goals-per-game average in the other seven contests is just over one per game (1.29).
- When you're a team struggling for goals, it doesn't help when you ship out one of your top point producers as the Coyotes did when they traded away 26-year-old Mikkel Boedker. Boedker's replacement, in terms of immediate roster help, is 36-year-old Alex Tanguay. Tanguay made an quick impact becoming the first player in Jets/Coyotes franchise history to net three points in his debut with the club. That may have been just a one game stroke of luck. With just 25 points in 54 games played this season, Tanguay is on pace to finish with his fewest point totals in a season where he's played 50-or-more games.
- While Tanguay may be a veteran on his last legs, 39-year-old Shane Doan is playing like someone 20 years his junior. The face of the franchise has 24 goals this season – his most since his career-high 31-goal season in 2008.09 – and even during the Coyotes' nine-game swoon he has remained consistent picking up three goals and six points.
- The Coyotes could be even more desperate for goals from Doan, or Tanguay, or anyone really, if they are without the service of leading point-getter Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The star blue-liner suffered an upper-body injury in Arizona's loss to Colorado on Monday. Ekman-Larsson is one of just four Coyotes to appear in all 66 games this season and, in addition to leading the team in points, is also the team leader in average time-on-ice (24:41), shots (205), power play goals (12), and game-winning goals (7).