Vancouver Canucks set to visit formidable Mullett Arena for the first time Thursday night
Photo credit:Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould8 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks will become the 29th visiting NHL team to experience Mullett Arena in Tempe, AZ when they take on the Arizona Coyotes at 7:00 p.m. PT on Thursday.
The Coyotes have enjoyed surprising success at their new 4,600-seat arena this season, leading many onlookers — and the club itself — to dub the phenomenon “Mullett Magic.”
As expected, the Coyotes have been among the worst teams in the NHL on the road this year, posting a 7–21–8 record through 36 games. But at home? They’re 18–11–3, including wins over the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Colorado Avalanche — among others.
It should go without saying, but the Canucks would be ill-advised to take Thursday’s game lightly.
“It’s a lot of fun playing out there. You feel the energy,” Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton said after a 5–4 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. “The energy in the building’s just unreal.”
“The ice is a little different, it feels smaller for sure. It’s not as high of a ceiling,” Brett Ritchie added after a 4–1 win over the Nashville Predators on Mar. 9. “I think it’s definitely an advantage for the home team, I always thought that when I saw it for the first time.”
The Coyotes have points in six consecutive games heading into Thursday’s tilt against the Canucks. The two teams previously met at Rogers Arena back on Dec. 3, 2022, with Bo Horvat scoring a pair of goals (including the winner) in a 3–2 OT victory.
Each of the Coyotes’ first 32 games at Mullett Arena has been a sellout, with the much-maligned temporary dressing rooms from their first four home contests at the venue long since replaced with permanent facilities up to NHL standards.
As the Calgary Flames demonstrated earlier this week, there’s plenty of room for a pre-game workout on the green space attached to the dressing rooms — although you’d best be careful not to kick your soccer ball over the fence.
On the ice, it’s all about the Coyotes’ top line with Clayton Keller. He’s proven to be nearly impossible to stop of late, most recently being named the NHL’s first star of the week after scoring nine points in four games between Mar. 6–12.
Keller followed that up with a two-goal outing against the Flames on Tuesday, putting him up to 31 goals and 71 points in 68 games this season. He’s the only Coyote to eclipse the 30-goal and 70-point marks in the last decade.
The Coyotes have gone without top-line forward Nick Schmaltz for their last two games, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll return to the lineup against the Canucks on Thursday. When they’ve been together, Keller, Schmaltz, and Barrett Hayton have formed one of the NHL’s most dangerous trios over the last two months.
Either way, the Canucks will be in for a tough test against a Coyotes team that has taken pride in being easy to underestimate this season.
“The boys are playing hard right now,” Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny said after his team beat the Flames 4–3 in overtime. “They play with desperation. They play for each other.
“We know we’re missing big pieces, and you have two ways you can react in those situations: you can enjoy the fact you have excuses, or you can show character and double down. That’s what our guys are doing right now.”
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