Ok, Keith. Now do that AGAINST Phoenix. (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images North America)
Game Day Recon #68 – Canucks @ Coyotes
The Vancouver Canucks finally won 2 games in row, as they swept their back-to-back games in Southern California. It was almost a month to the day from their last back-to-back wins, a five-game winning streak which ended February 7th. The Canucks look to keep their winning streak going on this road trip, as they travel to desert to face the Phoenix Coyotes.
Game Time: 6:00 PM PT
The Vancouver Canucks will play without Mason Raymond tonight. The much-maligned Raymond injured his shoulder on a hit from Corey Perry in the Canucks 3-0 win against the Ducks on Sunday. Raymond has been struggling all year, failing to live up to the expectations thrust upon after a banner year last season. Raymond has also seen his power play time reduced, which has just added to his scoring woes.
So Raymond takes a break, and probably a well-needed one, as some think that he has been playing slightly injured all year. Hopefully his time off, however brief, will give him the time off he needs to regroup his game.
As a result of Raymond’s injury, the Canucks called up Victor Oreskovich. Oreskovich will likely go to the fourth line with Lapierre and Glass, meaning that Jeff Tambellini is likely to take Raymond’s spot on the second line with Kesler and Samuelsson. The line of Tambellini, Kesler and Samuelsson had a terrific start earlier this year (when Raymond was also injured), so I’m sure the Canucks coaches would love to see them regain their magic. When Raymond was out of the lineup from Dec 5 – Jan 2, Tambellini (playing mostly on the second line), Tambellini had 5 goals, 3 assists for 8 points (including a 6 game point streak) in 12 GP and was + 7. In fact he didn’t have a single minus game through that stretch. The Canucks were also 9-1-2 over that time. Now to give you some perspective on that, for the rest of Tambellini’s games this season, he’s played 36 games, with 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points and is even on +/-. So it’s clear that Tambellini benefitted from his time on the second, and so did the Canucks. Specifically, Ryan Kesler had a terrific run over that time. In those 12 GP, Kesler had 9G 8A 17Pts and was +11. So this injury might have some added benefits. Not only could it shake Raymond out of his slump, it might do the same for Kesler.
The Canucks won’t face old teammate Ed Jovanovski tonight as big #55 recuperates from facial surgery. Derek Morris, despite being injured in the last game, is probable for tonight. Those are the Coyotes only injuries, so the Canucks face a pretty healthy squad. But the Coyotes don’t really have a Canuck killer, other than Ray Whitney. The 38-year-old has 10G 28A 38Pts in 43 GP against the Canucks in his career. But the Canucks will face a tough opponent in net, as Ilya Bryzgalov has a 2.39 GAA and a .920 Sv% in his 15 career games against the Canucks.
The teams have split their two previous meetings this year, with the road team winning both games. When the Canucks lost to the Coyotes at home on Nov 21st, it was the last loss before the Canucks went on their amazing run of 22 games, when they went 18-1-3. Their last win against the Coyotes, in Phoenix was in the middle of a six-game win streak. The game was a one-sided affair which saw the Canucks come out on top 6-0, chasing Bryzgalov from the net midway through the 3rd period.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Watch the tape from February 2nd. It was a near-perfect victory for the Canucks over the Coyotes. The Canucks scored early. They got points from all four lines. They limited the opposition’s chances. They took only two penalties. Keith Ballard played over 17 minutes and Aaron Rome was out.
2. Press the offense, and play the "Canucks" way. For as good as Bryzgalov is, and for as much as Dave Tippett is a defensive-mided coach, the Coyotes aren’t that good defensively. They have the worst goal differential and most goals against of any Western playoff team. The Canucks need to come out skating, force turnovers and keep the puck in the Phoenix zone as much as possible tonight.
3. Get the power play going again. The Coyotes have a BRUTAL penalty kill. They’re 28th in PPG against, and 27th in PK at only 77.9%. Granted they are better at home, where they’re ranked 20th at 82.1% but that’s still not great. The Canucks could certainly take advantage of this weakness to get their own PP back on track.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Coyotes (canucks.com)
2. A tough (t)ask for Canucks (Vancouver Sun)
3. Canucks, Coyotes keen to keep clicking (CBC Sports)
4. Canucks/Coyotes Preview (Yahoo! Sports)
5. Five For Howling (Coyotes Blog) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!