Game Day: Vancouver Canucks @ Phoenix Coyotes
The Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes come from similar situations in both the Northwest and Pacific divisions, where even if wins do come on a regular basis, it's pretty hard to tell. Despite having won four of their last six games, Phoenix sits seventh in the Western Conference and second-to-last in their own division, whereas the Stanley Cup finalists have won five of seven and aren't even in the playoffs as they sit in 11th spot, 3rd in the Northwest.
Last season these two teams split the series, each grabbing two wins in their opponent's rink (Phoenix won 3-1 and 3-2 at Rogers Arena, while Vancouver took the games at Jobing.com Arena by scores of 4-3 and 6-0). The Canucks currently have the NHL's best power play (25.8%), and the Coyotes remain the least penalized team in the league and have not allowed a power play goal at home in the last six straight games.
The Coyotes have one more game at home, yet another rematch with the Dallas Stars tomorrow night, before heading to Chicago and Winnipeg (!) on Tuesday and Thursday.
Quick Hits: Canucks
♦ Daniel Sedin had 6 assists in 4 games against Phoenix in 2010-11. He and brother Henrik have combined for 46 points in 21 games this season.
♦ Cory Schneider was the first star against the Avalanche on Wednesday, making 24 saves for the shutout. He is expected to get the start tonight against the Coyotes.
♦ Chris Higgins has 11 points this year, including 7 goals, which is good for fourth on the Canucks in points. Six of those points have come on the road. He hasn't played the Coyotes often (5 games in his career) but has 3 assists against them.
♦ Manny Malhotra is currently third in league faceoff percentage (58.7%) and first in road faceoff percentage (62.6%).
♦ Alain Vigneault, with the win on Wednesday, became the all-time winningest coach in Canucks' franchise history.
Quick Hits: Coyotes
♦ Coyotes' All-Star Keith Yandle played what was arguably his best game of the season against Anaheim, as he scored his second goal of the season and first in a month, also adding an assist. He now has four points in his last three games and is already eighth overall in Yotes' franchise defensemen all-time.
♦ This guy again? Radim Vrbata continues to find his name in this section, he who has five goals in his last three games and 15 points (including 10 goals) in his last 12. He also leads the team in takeaways with 14 and is seventh in NHL goal-scoring.
♦ Goaltender Mike Smith is 8-1-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average in his last stretch of 10 games.
♦ Boyd Gordon leads Phoenix with a plus-9 rating and was 75% in the faceoff circle against Anaheim on Wednesday.
♦ Shane Doan picked up two assists on Wednesday, giving him 2 goals and two assists in his last five games.
♦ Daymond Langkow is expected to return to the lineup tonight, while Raffi Torres is slated to face his old mates for the first time.