Canucks vs Coyotes Game Day Report: Don't Blow This One

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Canucks Game Day Coyotes

Coming off an improbable 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks get right back to it Sunday afternoon against the Arizona Coyotes.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

There is really no other way to feel about Sunday’s game against the Coyotes. If the Canucks have shown us one thing this season, it’s their inability to take games against the bottom-feeders of this league seriously.

However, Sunday is a new day and the Canucks should be riding high after reestablishing their hold on second place in the Pacific Division.

And before moving onto the Coyotes, let’s watch the highlights from their victory over the Kings because it’s just that great.

https://youtu.be/_AizzC72Q0k

Matchup

Game Time: 5:00 pm

TV: City

Image: foxsports.com

Image: foxsports.com

This is exactly how Shane Doan feels about the Coyotes’ season.

About the only thing that Arizona has done right this season is that they have stayed competitive in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. How bad is it right now for the Coyotes? They have fewer points than the Edmonton Oilers. Yes, those Edmonton Oilers.

But if you are going to choose a year to tank, 2015 is the right year to do it and the Coyotes will be a better team for it in the future.

In the present however, the Coyotes are currently on a four game losing streak and have a roster that features absolutely no one since the fire sale at the Trade Deadline purged Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle from the roster. In fact, their leading scorers are defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (35 points) and Sam Gagner (34 points).

Drink that in…

 

Storylines

1. Let’s Try This Again…

Welcome back to the NHL, Jacob Markstrom…Again

Image: nhl.com

Image: nhl.com

In his last highly-anticipated start, Markstrom was thrown to the Sharks and was thoroughly ventilated by a motivated San Jose team. If it makes Jacob feel better, the Sharks are almost done. But that’s besides the point.

Markstrom did make another appearance in Thursday night’s disaster against the Columbus Blue Jackets, stopping all two shots he faced in relief of Eddie Lack.

The Canucks badly need Markstrom to perform well against Arizona because they need him more than it may appear at the moment. Even though Eddie Lack has been lights out (forgetting Columbus ever happened), there are still 11 games left in the season before the playoffs and Lack needs some rest if the Canucks are going to have any hope of getting out of the first round. I say this because the playoffs are a mental grind that Lack hasn’t experienced yet.

So hopefully, Markstrom does his part on Sunday and the Canucks actually make an effort to help their backup goalie out a bit.

 

2. The Second Line

I’m not even sure what constitutes the Canucks’ second line anymore. I guess you could say whatever line is anchored by Nick Bonino. But whatever that trio happens to be, it tends to be outplayed by another.

Usually the Horvat line.

It may be too early in his career or perhaps the Canucks don’t want to mess with a good thing, but why not try to see what Horvat can do in a more offensive role?

No offence to Jannik Hansen and Ronalds Kenins (who have been terrific), but the kid has excelled in the role that he has be given this season, so lets see what he can do with some more talented linemates.

If you are worried that Horvat can’t produce in a second line role, keep in mind that he has 13 goals on the year, with many of those coming after the All-Star Break. That’s the same amount of goals as Nick Bonino and only three behind Daniel Sedin.

Maybe they will wait until a playoff berth has been secured to see what Bo can do.

3. Don’t Blow It

This one shouldn’t even be an issue but for the Vancouver Canucks, it is an unfortunate reality that they face every time they have to match up against competition that is supposed to be inferior.

The most recent example was Thursday night’s debacle against the Columbus Blue Jackets that say the Canucks drop a crucial and very winnable game by a score of 6-2. It wasn’t just that they lost, it was the way they lost.

The Canucks were up by two goals in the second period and completely let their foot off the gas. Although a lot of the blame was directed at Eddie Lack (and yes, some goals were terrible), the team simply let him out to dry.

Vancouver needs to avoid this on Sunday. Despite maintaining a 95.7% chance of making the playoffs with their victory over the Kings, there was a very realistic possibility of the Canucks being in a three-way tie for 7th in the conference place by the end of Saturday night. Fortunately, the Canucks pulled it together for what was probably their biggest victory of the season.

Which begs the question: can they maintain the momentum they have gained from finally beating the Kings?

They had better, because games against the Arizonas of the league are the points they need to be getting in order to secure their playoff position.

 

Lineup

Without Zack Kassian and Brad Richardson on their road trip, I would anticipate the Canucks ice the same lineup that beat up the Kings on Saturday afternoon.

Although he came back in the third period, it will be interesting to see if there are any physical ramifications for Alex Burrows after taking that cheap shot from Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli, by the way, will not receive a suspension for the hit.

 

D. Sedin H. Sedin Burrows
Higgins Bonino Vrbata
Kenins Horvat Hansen
Dorsett Vey Matthias
Edler Tanev
Hamhuis Weber
Sbisa Bieksa
Markstrom

Prediction

Although I’m scared about this game, I’m still going to say that the Canucks will win it by a score of 5-0.

The reason I say 5-0 is that either Vancouver will fail to show up again and lose, or they will play like they should and demolish the Coyotes like they should.

I’m going to be optimistic and bet on the latter.

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Steve Lancashire Canucks Contributor
@lankey22

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