CANUCKS ARMY GDT# 40 – CANUCKS VS. COYOTES

Coyotes

The Vancouver Canucks go for five wins in a row tonight against the Arizona Coyotes and I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty freaking excited! They’ve already equalled their best streak of the year at four games but this is uncharted territory for Willie Desjardins’ crew.

Thankfully, the Coyotes are in a funk so bad even the NFL’s Cleveland Browns are spotting them a lead (you know, if you could play teams in different sports). Arizona has lost seven straight and the Canucks have never looked better.

BROADCAST INFO

TV: SNET-P

RADIO: TSN 1040

PUCK DROP: 7:00 PM

LINE COMBOS

Alex Burrows’ scratched eye seems to be fine now so he’ll get back in the lineup. Obviously, Anton Rodin once again goes to the press box. Tough go for that guy. How are we going to know if he can cut it on this team without playing him? Brendan Gaunce is alright to healthy scratch, he hasn’t really been a burner out there.

Ryan Miller is unsung and he should be more sung in my opinion. He’s sports old but getting 350 wins is pretty impressive. He is most likely the starter. 

Vancouver Canucks lines courtesy of Dailyfaceoff.com:

Arizona hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve and that’s probably a good thing. Alex Burmistrov (waivers from WPG) will not play this evening. Bad boy Anthony Deangelo is serving a 3-game suspension for disrespecting an official (shoving and foul language) so he too, will not play. 

Talking with various people covering the Coyotes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson looks off lately, even before the Kassian hit, maybe he’s injured or something off-ice related, so watch for that.

Mike Smith should start and if things go anything close to sideways this game could get ugly and Mike Smith may borrow one of Alex Edler’s sticks (they break easy).

Arizona Coyotes lines courtesy of Dailyfaceoff.com:

GAME NOTES, STATS AND OTHER INTERESTING INFO

  • Henrik Sedin is 4 points away from 1000 career points. A huge milestone for any player, let alone on the same team. If there ever was a game to notch 4 points, this is it. 
  • Vancouver’s PK is bad but Arizona’s is worse. At 74.6%, the Coyotes are a bad game away from being dead last in the league while down a man. This game is sounding better by the second.
  • Still excited about the Canucks owning this one tonight, well look no further than the Coyotes GA/GM: 3.24/gm is good for 29th as well. The Canucks look like the 80’s Oilers compared to that sad sack crew.
  • So Sven Baertschi is doing OK these days? 11 points in his last 10 games (there was a lull in between, to be honest) has Sven sitting 4th in points on the Canucks and is a multi-point game away from sole possession of 3rd. Although I said Henrik was going to get 4 points as would Daniel, so he’ll have to settle for staying the same. 
  • I think Brandon Sutter might not be leaving the first power play unit. He is getting enough points to warrant his presence there. I’m sorry everyone, we tried.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Forgot those couple of beauty losing streaks Jeff.

MY TAKE

If Willie Desjardins is serious about giving Bo Horvat more ice time down the stretch then Jim Benning is going to have to address the need for this team to get better “on the fly.” It seems like they’ve done that anyways so their crazy operation they’re running up at the top might work.

FIVE-O, FIVE-O?

Arizona is a dreadful mess right now and even though this would be a typical Canucks trap game, I believe they can pull it off and get that much closer to challenging for a playoff spot. Feels weird to say they actually could do that.

  • It’s game day again. Yotes may be last, but they can still bite, so lets be ready. Vrbata needs to have a bad day. Same with Mike Smith. Did you see him beat down his goal post the other day after he got lit up for five? I want to see that again.

    Anyways, another win is what we need.

  • TD

    I still don’t get Willie’s love of Sutter. He is a decent third line centre, but how does he keep getting first unit PP time. Despite Baertschi’s two goals (one just after the penalty expired) that unit has not been very good.

    Sutter played a ton of 5on5 first line time with the twins, first PP all year, and the rest of the time has been on the second line. Horvat and Baer play on the third line (sort of third line) and both are ahead of Sutter in points. I would love to hear Willie’s answers to these questions.

    • TheRealPB

      The problem is without a dynamic puck-mover it’s hard for the Canucks to even gain the zone. The Sedins don’t get enough respect at the line to really carry it in themselves and they are too methodical so time and space is taken away. Sutter makes sense in terms of being a shooter and also giving them the puck to start with when he takes a face-off and wins it. I don’t think he’s the biggest problem on the PP. The biggest difference I’ve seen when it has looked better is the addition of Stetcher, that and the fact that Baertschi is much more dynamic and moves the puck with more urgency than the others. As much as I hate to rag on the Sedins I actually think they’re the biggest problem — they’re style which usually uses up about 1 to 1.5 minutes — keeps the puck on the outside, doesn’t apply much pressure and doesn’t have enough urgency. When they do set it up for the big shot we either get a broken stick (Edler) or a missed net (Stetcher). They also keep trying the backdoor play and it sometimes works but most often doesn’t. The second unit is chaotic but that’s because of the myriad personnel changes. If you had Horvat, Granlund, and perhaps Rodin/Burrows, Hutton and Tanev and give them more than 30 seconds maybe you might be more successful if you kept them together for a little bit.

    • Freud

      WD is an old school inside the box coach. You need scorers and checkers. They either do one or the other, never both.

      You need to pair an offensive d-men with defensive d-man. The oldest goalie automatically is your starter, never mind how he plays.

      If WD has a history with you, you play, if he doesn’t know you, you don’t.

      If you fit inside his box and fit the criteria, you play. Damn the evidence that it doesn’t work, it fits in the box, so he’s doing it.

      When questioned, Willie will justify it by saying the player earned it or didn’t.

      • Big D, little d

        I’m not sure the evidence supports your hot take.

        So far this year the Sedins have had Eriksson, Hansen, Sutter and now Megna as their right wing. Hell, even Baertschi had one game there. To me, that doesn’t say the coach is stuck in a rigid paradigm, it says the coach is flexible enough to try all his options.

        On D, his pairings are currently Edler/Stecher and Sbisa/Tanev. Neither of those are offensive/defensive pairings.

        The Canucks aren’t really deploying their goalies in a starter/backup configuration. Miller has gotten a few more starts, but not a ton (it’s a 22/17 split). Markstrom’s numbers might be marginally better but you can’t say he’s consistently outplayed Miller, at least not to the point that he should be getting most of the starts.

        As far as Sutter on PP1, it’s not like Willie has a ton of desireable options. It’s basically either Sutter or Eriksson. Arguably, the configuration with Sutter has better numbers than with Eriksson. Eriksson started there, but got swapped out when things weren’t going well. To me that’s evidence that Willie is willing to change things up when they’re not working, not evidence that he sticks to his plan despite it not working.

        Probably the only line-up decision that Willie stuck with too long (IMhO) was the Hutton/Gudbranson pairing. It certainly looked like it wasn’t working well but Willie stayed with it until the decision was taken out of his hands. I’m not in the room, so I can’t say how much of that might have been waiting to see if Gudbranson’s hand would improve over time.

        So let’s just retire this “Willie is an old school, inflexible coach” narrative.

    • Big D, little d

      The underlying numbers for the Sutter/Sedin powerplay are about 15% better than for the Eriksson/Sedin combination (via Corsica.hockey).

      Don’t buy into the complaining about Sutter on PP1. It really is the best option the Canucks have. Now if you want to have a discussion about why the Canucks don’t have any better options, that’s a completely different conversation.

  • The_Blueline

    Arizona’s roster looks awful. I get that the Canucks are not a good hockey team at the moment, but how could the experts think we were going to be worse that this group?

    I am still on team high draft pick, but hey there is not much I can say against winning. GO CANUCKS!

  • Bud Poile

    Ever since J.D. damned Baertschi with faint praise prior to the New Year’s Eve game Sven has collected 5 points and is on pace for a 50 point season.

    Second round pick trade looking like a steal.