Canucks Army GDT #33 – Canucks vs. Coyotes

After bumping their losing slump against the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks face another struggling opponent tonight in their final game before the Christmas break, wrapping up their four-game home stand against the Arizona Coyotes. The ‘Yotes are struggling mightily, going 1-5-1 in their past 7 games, and sit firmly in contention for the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, but hey, they have Martin “useless against 28 other teams” Hanzal at their disposal, so anything can happen.

Read past the jump for a preview of tonight’s showdown.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

After a scary incident forced him from the game on Saturday, Jannik Hansen will play tonight after being cleared by doctors. Ryan Miller is expected to start against Arizona.

Brandon Gormley was recalled from Portland to take the place of injured Michael Stone, but may not play. Mike Smith gets the nod for the ‘Yotes.

Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are essentially the Edmonton Oilers this season, except without all the hilarious history of total ineptitude and incompetence, and tucked neatly outside of the media spotlight in Glendale, Arizona. They’re 28th in the NHL with an 11-17-4 record, ahead of only Edmonton and Carolina, sit 24th in score adjusted Corsi, and most notably, 25th in even strength save percentage. The only reason why they aren’t 30th is because of Oilers castoff Devan DubnykMike Smith is 65th out of 72 goalies with a catastrophic 0.892 even strength save percentage, and the only goalie to play 20 or more games to have one below 0.900.

But if your memories of this Coyotes team are still of a stifling defensive unit that checks you into the ground rather than the ultra-porous and defensively inept group they’ve become, well, I can hardly blame you:

One of those meetings came earlier this season, as the Coyotes embarrassed the Canucks 5-0 in Rogers Arena, thanks to a Dubnyk shutout and a Martin Hanzal natural hat trick. Those three goals were Hanzal’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th markers of the season, and the big centre has only scored once since that game – this past Saturday against the L.A. Kings.

For some bizarre reason, Hanzal always seems to have a massive impact on Vancouver-Phoenix games while doing absolutely nothing against every other team in the NHL. He’s a Canuck killer, and not just in the metaphorical sense that Milan Hejduk used to be a Canuck killer, but in a literal “every player he has ever injured has been a Vancouver Canuck” sense too. Lest we forget that this is the same guy that injured Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli, and David Booth all in the same game.

To have success tonight, the Canucks need to show up, play hard, generate some chances, and every single one of the other million cliches you’ve heard before. There’s still truth in them however, as Vancouver really does need a good effort to head into the Christmas break. “Two wins in a row” sounds a hell of a lot better than “one win in their last 7 games,” even if those two wins came against teams that should be bottom feeders in the Pacific division.

  • pheenster

    Nearly 2pm PST and not a single comment…

    NM00 proposes that these be changed to NBGDTs (Night Before the Game Day Threads) so the bloggers can sleep through breakfast – and if we’re being honest, lunch as well – and the community does not suffer.

    Do not forget who butters your bread…

  • pheenster

    Relax NM00, it’s the holidays – internet commentators were busy putting trees up. That being said, I’ve been checking out Oiler Nation threads over the last week for comical relief and they are as busy as hell….

    NHL.com is reporting that Hansen will not play and TopSixtito will draw in for him…crap.