January 07 2010 10:49AM
The Coyotes have been lurking near the top of the standings, licking their chops.
The Vancouver Canucks look to avenge a shootout loss less than two weeks ago as they host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at GM Place. The Canucks are one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference, while the Coyotes and their staunch defense continue to drop jaws as they stay in the top four in the West.
The Coyotes don't score a lot of goals. But they sure do keep them out of the net. Phoenix is 5th in the league in GAA and Ilya Bryzgalov is the likely leading candidate for the Vezina trophy so far this year, along with Ryan Miller in Buffalo. They have a top-10 PK unit lead the entire league in GA at 5-on-5 with only 59 goals against at full even strength.
That said, the Coyotes are not nearly as good on the road as they at at home. More specifically, the Coyotes take a ton of penalties on the road. Couple that with the fact that the Canucks have the #1 home PP in the entire league, and the Canucks have the secret to their success tonight. They need to ensure that they use their speed and puck possession skills to draw Phoenix into taking penalties.
Their other main point against Phoenix is that they do not do well when having to come back when trailing. When they trail after the first period, Phoenix is only .154. However, when they lead after the first period, they are 13-1. So the second key to beating Phoenix is to play hard in the first and go into the break with a lead.
Although Phoenix has been a bit of a doormat in the league of late, they have had success against the Canucks. With straight-up wins and losses, Phoenix is 6-4 against Vancouver in their last 10 overall meetings. However, the Canucks are 7-2-1 at home to Phoenix in their last 10 meetings at GM Place, but only 2-2 in their last 4.
Ok Canucks - dominate the first, get an early lead, skate well and draw lots of penalties. Sound good? Good. Now go do it.