Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Scenes from morning skate: Canucks host Coyotes on Pride Night to open five-game homestand
1 month ago
The Vancouver Canucks (29-11-4) have another shot to reach the 30-win mark when they host the Arizona Coyotes (21-18-3) to kick off a five-game homestand at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks fell 4-3 in a shootout in Columbus on Monday and tonight will play their first home game since January 2nd when they defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3. It’s the seventh annual Pride Night at Rogers Arena as the Canucks celebrate diversity, acceptance and inclusion at the rink.
What we saw
Thatcher Demko returns to the net tonight after backing up Casey DeSmith in Monday’s road trip finale in Columbus. Demko was perfect, stopping all 26 shots he faced and recording his fourth shutout of the season in his last start last Saturday in Buffalo. Tonight will mark his 200th NHL appearance. That will be the only change for the Canucks who will go with the same six defencemen and 12 forwards they used in Columbus.
The Canucks went 5-1-1 on their longest road trip of the season. They are 13-2-3 now in their last 18 hockey games. They are also 6-1 in their last seven games on home ice.
Elias Pettersson has 10 goals in his last eight games – that includes two goals on four occasions. He has scored in five of the Canucks last six outings. With JT Miller and Brock Boeser, the Lotto Line has 15+15=30 in six games since being put back together in New Jersey early in the road trip.
Conor Garland scored in Columbus and had three goals on the team’s seven game road trip. He recorded his first NHL hattrick in Arizona in Game 82 last season. That night included the last power play goal he has scored and the last game winner.
If the Canucks manage to pick up eight points on this five-game homestand, they will hit the All Star break with 70 points on the season. They finished with 83 in 82 games last season.
The Coyotes are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss in Calgary on Tuesday. They are 2-1-1 in their last four games, but those two victories are their only wins in their last seven games. Prior to that, they had rattled off victories in six of seven. The Yotes had a 2-0 third period lead at the Saddledome, but couldn’t make it standup. Sean Durzi and Logan Cooley had the Arizona goals while Connor Ingram made 27 saves in the setback.
Clayton Keller and Lawson Crouse lead the Coyotes with 17 goals apiece while Keller is the team’s leading scorer with 39 points. Nick Schmaltz, who has 13+15=28 and leads the club with seven power play goals, is doubtful for tonight’s game after leaving Tuesday’s contest with an undisclosed injury.
One time Canucks farmhand Michael Carcone, who had never scored more than four goals in an NHL season, has 14 goals – although he’s gone 13 games since his last one on December 11th.As a team, Arizona sits four points back of Edmonton and Nashville for the wild card spots in the Western Conference. They hold two games in hand on the Predators. It may surprise some to learn that Arizona has better special teams than the Canucks. Arizona’s power play is ninth in the NHL at 23.5% (Canucks are 11th at 23..2%). And the Coyotes penalty kill is 19th at 79.0% one spot ahead of Vancouver which is 78.8% for the season.
The Coyotes roster includes three former Canucks – Troy Stecher, Travis Boyd and Travis Dermott – along with Dylan Guenther, the 2020 first rounder, selected with the pick shipped to Arizona to acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. Boyd, however, has been out of the line-up since mid-December with an upper body injury.
Connor Ingram, a former Kamloops Blazer standout, has a share of the NHL lead with five shutouts on the season. He’s tied there with Tristan Jarry one ahead of Thatcher Demko. He gets the start in goal tonight.
Arizona will try to hand the Canucks a second straight setback. The Canucks have not dropped consecutive games since November 16th in Calgary and the 18th at home against Seattle.
Tonight’s referees: Trevor Hanson & Justin Kea
What we heard
Rick Tocchet on difficulty of first game back home after a long road trip: “it’s just a mindset. There’s no reason you can’t be ready to play. I get it, two weeks is a long time, but we’ve had a couple of days off. It’s great the guys saw their families and stuff like that. You’ve got to concentrate for two or three hours tonight and then you can relax again.”
Tocchet with an update on Phil Di Giuseppe who suffered a lower-body injury in the Canucks last home game and hasn’t been seen or heard from since: “until he starts to skate with our skills coaches, you have to go through that process before we even think about getting him in the line-up. So we’re not there yet.”
Conor Garland wades into the debate about a name for his line with Teddy Blueger and Dakota Joshua: “yeah, we don’t need a name. We’re a third line. We’re a hard line to play against. There’s no need to name a third line. There are only certain lines in the league that should have a name. We’ll just stick with being the third line.”
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