The Canucks go up against Shane Doan for the first time since he rebuffed their advances in the offseason.
I think it’s safe to say that the Vancouver Canucks have had better roadtrips than the 4-gamer they just completed on Sunday night. Sure, they went 2-2 – which is respectable, especially given the level of competition they faced – but it was a trip that featured one of the worst games I’ve watched in a long time (Nashville), a game in which their goaltender had to put forth a herculean effort just to steal one point (Chicago), and a game in which they got rocked for 8 goals against (Detroit).
It’s a thing of the past, though, and they now hope to restore normalcy with some home cookin’. They play host to the Phoenix Coyotes, who also happen to be coming off of an embarrasing effort in their most recent game; they gave up 2 goals in the final 83 seconds en route to blowing a lead against the hilariously mediocre Calgary Flames.
Read on Past the Jump for More on the Game.
Puckdrop: 7 PM PST
Radio: Team 1040
Television: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
I feel like we’re all on the same page when it comes to the Canucks these days. The Sedins are incredibly slick, Roberto Luongo is doing wonders for his trade value by being a funny guy on Twitter, and Jason Garrison is obviously the worst player in the history of hockey. What’s the point of beating a dead horse?
So instead, let’s take a look at the Phoenix Coyotes and what they’ve got going on right now in an attempt to prepare for this game. For the Yotes everything begins and ends with their goaltender Mike Smith, whose regression this year has been quite satisfying for yours truly. There’s no doubt that he was spectacular last season as he sported a .930 save percentage. But to anyone who was willing to look, it was fairly clear that it was more of an outlier in the grand scheme of things than a testament to what type of goaltender Smith is; .912, .893, .906, .916, .900, .899 were his sv%’s in the years leading up to 2011-12. This season, he has managed a .907 mark, which for all intents and purposes is far closer to what I’d expect from him. And to think, he was so close to landing a ridiculous contract on the free agent market that would could spend years making fun of!
The Coyotes, as you may know, haven’t exactly historically been a franchise overflowing with individual offensive talent. It seems that year after year, their lineup features a who’s who of players that other teams deemed unworthy. Yet they continue to truck along, and continue to get by. This year is no different, as what seems like a less than impressive roster on paper has managed to be in the middle of the pack in terms of scoring.
Unfortunately for them, they come into this one missing a few key pieces up front, as key contributors Martin Hanzal (a very large individual) and Radim Vrbata (you’re aware that he scored 35 goals last season, right?). They’ll certainly miss both of those guys. In their stead, expect a large chunk of their offense to be generated by puck-moving defensemen Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who both come into this one in the top 15 for points by a defenseman.
This also marks the first time that the Canucks will take on Shane Doan since he turned them down to sign a 4-year, $21.2 million deal with the Yotes. I was on the record as saying that the team dodged a bullet when he rebuffed them, and nothing I’ve seen this season has changed my mind. He’s a precipitously declining player that is already a shell of himself. No thanks.
Raffi Torres will be on the ice in this one, so everyone should keep their head up and make sure those chin straps are buckled. And finally, if you’d like to meet an NHL player (using that term loosely, I know) head down to The Roxy on Granville Street after the game, and get a picture taken with the biggest bro of ’em all, Paul Bissonnette.
Note: According to Dan Murphy (feel free to shap him @sportsnetmurph if you haven’t already), David Booth will be back in the lineup, which means Volpatti sits. Also, Schneider is back in net for the Canucks.
|PP%||17.1% (15th)||18.2% (11th)|
|PK%||84.4% (8th)||79.4% (19th)|
|FO%||52.8% (6th)||49.6% (19th)|
|Corsi Close %||48.0% (19th)||53.4% (5th)|
|Fenwick Close %||49.3% (18th)||53.2% (5th)|
|Team PDO||98.4 (22nd)||103.4 (3rd)|