Canucks Army GDT #18 – Canucks vs Coyotes

Vancouver is back in action tonight, playing an Arizona Coyotes team that has struggled on the year, and lost 3 games in a row, including one last night. Radim Vrbata will return to the Canucks lineup to take on his former teammates, and the Canucks will be looking to re-take the lead in the overall NHL standings.

Read past the jump for a preview of tonight’s Pacific Division match up.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Radim Vrbata is expected to play at 1st line RW. Derek Dorsett is expected to play at 4th line LW. Bo Horvat is a healthy scratch. Zack Kassian and Luca Sbisa will not play, presumably with injuries. Bobby Sanguinetti was recalled from Utica, but is not expected to play. Ryan Miller will start in goal.

Defensive Pairings
Oliver Ekman-Larsson 
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Zbynek Michalek 
Zbynek Michalek
Keith Yandle 
Keith Yandle
Connor Murphy 
Connor Murphy
Brandon Gormley 
Brandon Gormley
Michael Stone 
Michael Stone

David Schlemko has been placed on waivers. Devan Dubnyk will likely start in goal for Phoenix.

Preview

The Coyotes sit dead last in the Western Conference with 14 points in 16 games, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers. They have also dropped three games in a row, including a 5-3 decision last night against the successful-but-actually-really-bad Calgary Flames, and just can’t get a save right now from either of their goaltenders. At even strength, the Coyotes have an 0.895 team save percentage, which is the worst mark in the league.

While that should improve, it’s also worth noting that Phoenix is a pretty poor possession team too. While they sit one place ahead of Vancouver in raw Corsi% – their mark of 48.9% Corsi is 22nd in the NHL while Vancouver sits 23rd at 48.7% – they are well below the Canucks in terms of score adjusted Fenwick. The ‘Yotes are actually 25th in the NHL right now, 10 places below the Canucks, with a 46.6% Fenwick, adjusted for score effects.

The combination of poor play and a low PDO has led to some roster moves from the Coyotes. They called up top prospect Brandon Gormley earlier in the year, and to make room, they have waived D David Schlemko, who has been the victim of some shaky play and awful on-ice save percentages in a small sample this season. We think that David Schlemko would make a good former Coyote, but a current former Coyote will face his old team for the first time with Vancouver. Radim Vrbata will return to the lineup, and hopefully he’ll provide a boost to a suddenly anemic Canucks powerplay.

Phoenix traveled after playing last night, so one would expect that they may have heavy legs. Still, playing a divisional opponent and wanting to put a quick end to a losing streak should be motivation enough for the Coyotes to put forth a strong effort tonight against the Canucks.