December 06 2013 01:12PM
Pictured: the City of Glendale
Wake up everybody! A win by Vancouver and the Canucks are right back in playoff position! Granted, Phoenix will have games in hand, but that's besides the point. The truth is, the Coyotes have been slipping a little of late and having won three of four, the Canucks are right back in the race.
But really, it's December. Who cares. Until about mid-January, the standings for the most part reflect the team that's banked the most wins in the last week or so. A week ago, the slumping Canucks had lost seven of eight. Now they've won three of four, and have gone from three points out to one point out. Phoenix have won two of seven! Who is on form? Who has momentum?
Who the heck is even on the Coyotes?
(NOTE: I was discussing with a fellow Vancouver blogger that the reason the Vancouver fanbase is committed to negativism is that they have no natural rival to rally against, except for the Canucks. We decided that the Canucks needed a rival, so we're going to go with Phoenix. Stick it in your ear, Phoenicians. We hate you now.)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST*
TV: Sprotsnet Pacific
Radio: Mr. Team
* - One thing I've noticed is that Dimitri is still using 'PDT' even though Daylight Savings Time ended over a month ago. Set your clock back, Dimitri! You're an hour ahead!
The Coyotes are usually a snoozefest. Between 2007 and 2013 the team was 20th in the league in goals for and 10th in the league in goals against. Add in the lack of offensive stars or relevant players not named Shane Doan, and you have to wonder why this team didn't generate any sort of interest from fans or rich people for the last decade.
Apparently though, the Coyotes are 4th in the NHL in goals this year? Weird, because this is all we know about the Coyotes:
In promoting this rivalry, we will ignore what the Vancouver Canucks official Twitter account said about Roberto Luongo's acting ability…
The point is, Mike Smith has had exactly one good year in the NHL, behind a Dave Tippett-led defence, and is in the Team Canada conversation because none of the writers in Toronto that are selecting the team have watched a game in Phoenix either. After his .930 save percentage in 2011-12, nobody seems to bother to mention his .910 in 2012-13 or .911 so far this season in 24 games. It's almost like you can't judge a goalie based on one season!
Other Phoenix Coyotes you may of heard have: Radim Vrbata. Mike Ribeiro. Derek Morris. I think I had Derek Morris' rookie card back when I still collected hockey cards, and it looked liked he was really going to 'go places'. Those 'places' included every team in the NHL. He was traded for Chris Drury, then Keith Ballard, then Dmitri Kalinin, and then a third round pick. I'm sensing a pattern.
Here are the forward lines, per Daily Faceoff, and also the defensive pairings, which in previous years were the forward lines:
Rob Klinkhammer? David Schlemko? Jordan Szwarz? Kyle Chipchura? Are the Coyotes a hockey team or just a collection of slang terms for a venereal disease?
Anyway, as you might expect, the line with Mike Ribeiro on it is the one that gets the primo offensive zone minutes while Antoine Vermette's handles the defensive zone and the tough forward minutes. (All opinions here are based on numbers found at ExtraSkater) That Klinkhammer-Vermette-Moss line is less bad than you'd think they'd be, by name alone, and they've generally kept their tough opponents even in Corsi—Vermette's Corsi rate this year is 48.9%, just about even relative to the rest of his team.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is an underrated defenceman, but his defensive game has fallen off a bit this year, going from a plus-Corsi guy against the toughest of minutes to hanging 45.9%, or -4.5% relative to the rest of the Coyotes. His usage hasn't changed—he's still playing against the toughest opponents, and his points per 60 has picked up from 1.20 to 1.58. He's scoring a lot more, but his shooting percentage jumped from 3% to 7% which is diminishing people noticing his defensive game isn't up to the level it can be this year.
He'll generally play those defensive minutes alongside Vermette, playing on defence with
Zybyn Zibeenuk Zbynuk Z. Michalek, but with Michalek out he's been with Michael Stone.
|Corsi Close %||47.4% (25th)||52.8% (8th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.79 (5th)||2.44 (9th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.47 (23rd)||2.23 (18th)|
|PDO||101.3 (6th)||99.6 (20th)|
|5v4 GF/60||7.88 (5th)||4.27 (27th)|
|5v4 SF/60||53.1 (16th)||65.7 (2nd)|
|4v5 GA/60||7.88 (27th)||3.47 (1st)|
|4v5 SA/60||65.1 (28th)||44.0 (4th)|
|Penalty Differential||-5 (21st)||-1 (T-17th)|
When I was a kid and the Jets moved, the pocket schedule listed the new team from Phoenix as PHO, but maybe it should of been printed up as 'P*D*O' because that is how the Coyotes are winning hockey games! 25th in Corsi close but 10th in 5-on-5 goal differential? Yeah, that'll last.
As for the special teams, the Coyotes are as bad on the PK preventing goals as the Canucks are at scoring them, the key difference being that the Canucks deserve a better fate. Phoenix has generated a bunch of offence on the man advantage this year, and I figure that plays well into the Canucks' hands, or at least giving them a challenge in shutting down a top 5 group on paper.
Howling Canucks - $1 pays out $6.50 if you bet the Canucks to score a goal in all three periods and win the game. That's not #easymoney, but at 2.63 goals per game, the Canucks are scoring about 0.87 goals per period. Unfortunately, scoring is randomly distributed, but you're still looking at a 65% chance or so of the Canucks scoring in each frame. Just seems there's a nice cushion between the odds and the payout.
Leading the Way - $1 pays out $3.25 if Daniel Sedin scores a goal and the Canucks win. Also a pretty good bet. Daniel's actual pace is worth a $3.03 payout per game, and keep in mind his 9.5% shooting rate is below his career average. I'm not encouraging you to gamble, but if you were compelled to gamble, both these bets look good if you think the Canucks will win, based on payout alone.
*Don't forget to sign up with the Canucks Army promo code "CANUCKSARMY" to receive $25 worth of free bets.