Thursday, January 7, 2010
GAME DAY: Canucks vs. Coyotes
Game night at GM Place and this time the Canucks can expect an opponent that will put up a bit more fight than Columbus did Tuesday night. The Phoenix Coyotes are in town and with an OT loss still fresh in their memories, the Canucks will not only look for payback tonight, but to take advantage of the help they got on the scoreboard. The Flames and Avalanche both lost last night, and a Vancouver win will vault them past the Avs and into a points tie with the Flames, making Saturday night's HNIC match against the Flames even bigger. And while the Coyotes scraped out an OT victory in Edmonton after blowing a 2 goal lead, history definitely isn't on their side. The Coyotes have only won 5 games against the Canucks in Vancouver since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.
The key for the Coyotes this season has been their back end. Great goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, and a strong Dcore has allowed them to be in a lot of close games, getting clutch goals. But they don't score a lot, in a way they remind me of the Minnesota Wild a couple years back. Good in goal, defensively sound, and opportunistic. About as exciting as watching Ben Stein go over the fluctuations of the Rupee as compared to the US Dollar in 1986. So while we won't see a 7 goal outburst from the Canucks, another confidence building win, some good incentive in the standings and the knowledge that they need to stockpile points right now should make for a decent match.
I worry about that the Canucks might be looking ahead to Saturday and the Flames, but with a chance to move within 1 point of this conference rival as well, the Canucks should be able to close this one out. Henrik Sedin's play of late is beginning to get people talking. With a point he will take over sole possession of 1st in the NHL scoring race, and he has a 7 game point streak that has him going at a 2 ppg clip. Brother Daniel is also tearing it up with 13 points of his own in that time frame, as they combined for 9 points (along with linemate Alex Burrows) against the Blue Jackets.
It's amazing to see the Coyotes in the playoff hunt when you look back at all the turmoil, the sale fiasco, Gretzky leaving the team, etc. Dave Tippett has to be a shoe-in for the Jack Adams trophy if he can keep them in the top 8. The play of Ed Jovanovski as well has helped, as the one time Canucks Dman sees him him having his best season since leaving Vancouver.
Taylor Pyatt returns to GM Place for the first time with his new team, might be a little emotional for him. No word on whether Aaron Rome will be in the #6 slot again tonight, though a lot of Canucks fans are hoping this is the night we get to see Brad Lukowich in a Canucks uniform for the first time.