With the pre-season now entering its second and final week, the focus – at least partially – shifts towards fine-tuning for the start of the regular season which opens a week from Wednesday despite the fact there are still a number of roster decisions still to be made. On Friday, the Canucks demonstrated strong play in two areas that they will be the key to success during the regular season – the power play and goaltending – in a 3-0 win over Calgary. Tonight, the Canucks get a chance to face another Pacific Division foe in the Coyotes that, like them, are looking for a bounce back campaign this season.
The Coyotes are just two years removed from a trip to the Western Conference Final but have since missed the playoffs in two straight years. They are in a retool situation somewhat as well after losing two of their top point producers in Radim Vrbata, now of the Canucks, and Mike Ribeiro in the off-season although they are hoping that the acquisition of Sam Gagner, formerly of the Oilers, will help make up for some of the offence lost. The Coyotes won three of the five head-to-head meetings against the Canucks last season, with Mike Smith pitching a pair of shutouts. These two teams will meet five times this regular season, including three times at Rogers Arena, with the first clash coming on November 14 in Vancouver.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet ONE, TSN 1040, or online at tsnradiovancouver.ca.
2013.14 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Get the early jump. Scoring early has proven to be the key to success for both the Canucks and Coyotes so far in pre-season as they've combined for a record of 6-1-0 in games where they've gotten on the scoreboard first. Vancouver is 3-0-0 when opening the scoring this pre-season.
Continue the battle. The fight for jobs figures to be even more intense here in the final week of pre-season not only for the young prospects like Horvat, Shinkaruk, Jensen and Corrado, but for some of the veterans who may be on the bubble as well including Matthias and Weber.
Get to the goalie. Both Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack have been all-world so far for the Canucks in pre-season so the Coyotes will need to make life just a little bit less comfortable for Vancouver's netminder tonight. Arizona has shown the ability to puck pucks in net so far in pre-season amassing 16 goals in five games played.
By the Numbers
Vancouver's all-time win percentage in pre-season. The Canucks' all-time pre-season record is 157-152-33.
Save percentage for Eddie Lack against the Coyotes last season. Despite stopping 53 of 55 shots, Lack went 0-2-0.
Goals allowed this pre-season by Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack combined.
UFAs signed by Arizona this summer: Devan Dubnyk (MTL) and Joe Vitale (PIT).
Power play goals scored by the Canucks in Friday's win against Calgary. They did not score more than two PPGs in any game last season.