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GAME PREVIEW: Canucks vs. Coyotes

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With nothing on the docket until Wednesday of next week, the Canucks have a chance to pick up two points against a scuffling opponent coming off a loss last night at Calgary. Play 60, enjoy the weekend and heal up!

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Coyotes vs Canucks coverage

Time Friday, 7:00 PST
TV SNP/FS-A PLUS
Season Series 0-0
Last Meeting 
-
The Enemy Five For Howling Scoring Leaders

H. Sedin 5-12-17
A. Vermette 4-8-12

Canucks
CATEGORY
Coyotes
12-5-0 SEASON RECORD 6-9-1
24 Points 13
2nd Conference Position 14th
Won 2
Streak Lost 3
3.00 (7th)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
2.44 (23rd)
2.76 (18th)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
3.44 (28th)
19.0 (17th) Power Play % 19.4 (16th)
86.4 (7th) Penalty Kill % 75.9 (26th)
47.6 (27th) Faceoff Win % 53.2 (2nd)
10.6 (13th) PIM / GP 11.6 (21st)
31.1 (9th) Shots For / GP 29.8 (17th)
29.3 (14th) Shots Against / GP 30.4 (20th)
Canucks
Analytics
Coyotes
50.36 (15th) Adjusted Fenwick 46.64 (26th)
48.7 (23rd) 5v5 Corsi For % 48.9 (22nd)
2.59 (9th) 5v5 Goals For / 60 2.10 (22nd)
2.90 (26th)
5v5 Goals Against / 60 2.99 (27th)
50.10 (16th) 5v5 OZS % 55.05 (3rd)
8.61 (9th) 5v5 Shooting % 7.76 (15th)
90.52 (24th) 5v5 Save % 89.52 (30th)
99.1 (23rd) PDO 97.3 (28th)

H. Sedin +8.66

D. Sedin +7.84

5v5 Corsi Rel % Leaders

(50 min played)

Z. Michalek +9.81

O. Ekman-Larsson +7.96

R. Stanton -16.76

S. Matthias -6.21

5v5 Corsi Rel % Anchors

(50 min played)

J. Vitale -9.97

D. Moss -7.43

N. Bonino 3.92

C. Higgins 3.27

5v5 Goals / 60 Leaders

(50 min played)

M. Hanzel 2.25

S. Doan 2.12


Wins are Wins, But Are The Canucks Headed For Losses?

Despite the wins piling up, a number of metrics are slowly inching south. It's noteworthy. The Canucks have slid towards league average possession numbers. Part of this was a California road trip that was largely rough on the overall numbers. They got "gatored" in the Corsi battle in San Jose and LA. What does that mean? Well:

Can v SJS Corsi

Canucks vs LA Gator Corsi

Credit: hockeystats.ca

Look, I don't know if it is a sign of things to come. Because they have balanced those out with decent and very good possession games. They have also been bit by score effect. Because they have lead most of the games they have played in, they have shelled up a bit, especially later in games, and this has hurt their Corsi.

To wit, the Canucks' Corsi in 5v5 close situations (first and second period tied or within 1, 3rd period tied) is above water at 50.61%. At home, where they have only had the benefit of playing 7 of their 17 games, they are at a very respectable 53.48%.

The combination of majority road games, a tougher slate of opponents during that California stretch, and score effect, are all contributors to their possession proxy stat decline. I would also say that their bottom 6 needs to pull a bit more weight in this department, as well as the deployment department. Getting healthy should help, as the rookie line did struggle in limited duty, affecting TOI and deployment across the lines.

In any event, they welcome in a slumping Arizona Coyotes club that has lost three straight, is coming off a loss to Calgary last night, and is sitting at dead last in the conference. Take these two points, rest up, and play again middle of next week. Sounds good, right?

Key to the Game: Goaltending Course Correction

Ryan Miller has certainly been better in his career. I have highlighted it before in detail here, but at evens, Miller has been consistently at or around the league average of 92% 5v5 SV%. This season, thus far, the Canucks are well below average, sitting at just 90.52% as a team (Miller and Lack combined). In particular, as the graph below shows, Miller and Eddie Lack have struggled in particular with shots coming from high probability areas. Rebound control was an issue against the Senators and against the Kings and the hope is that he will do a better job of alleviating the stress of rebounds around the high probability areas in front of him. For his own sake and for the sake of the defense.

Of note: High probability areas are basically those around the front of the net out to the slot, or, premium scoring areas. The spot inside the "wrench" below, with the "wrench" representing medium probability shooting areas.

probability zones

Miller's 5v5 high probability shot save% is just 78.57 this season. I expect this number to improve. And with it, 5v5 goals against per 60 minutes will improve.

Tonight, the Canucks will be facing a team that has struggled mightily in the goaltending department. The Arizona Coyotes 5v5 save percentage is dead last at 89.52%, and while I anticipate improvement there as well, the Coyotes have experienced uncharacteristic defensive woes as well. And the Canucks may catch a break, as Mike Smith manned the nets (poorly) last night in the loss to Calgary. I expect Devan Dubnyk to start, and this is a good thing:

Goalies Yotes v Canucks 11-14-14

Credit: war-on-ice.com

An explanation of adjusted save percentage can be found here. Essentially, it weights the goaltender's save percentage by the number of shots they receive in each scoring area, to more accurately reflect the workload they have received. While Dubnyk has actually done quite well in the high probability areas, albeit in a very small sample of just 4 games, his overall numbers are rather paltry. This is because he has gotten more shots from medium probability areas and done poorly against them. He can be taken advantage of on the rush, where many of the best medium probability shots are taken from. The Canucks would be wise to push tempo against a tired team that isn't particularly fleet of foot to begin with.

Expected Lines: Vrbata's Back

It is expected that Radim Vrbata and Derek Dorsett will be ready to go for tonight's game. You've got to think that Vrbata is going to get his engine started against his former mates, not only because he has been in a bit of a drought, but because of the familiarity he has with their tendencies and playstyle. Expect him to come out hungry after some time to rest. The Canucks could use his scoring punch. Especially on the powerplay, which has fallen into a bit of a funk lately.

It looks like Zack Kassian is still not ready to come back, so Jensen is going to get another turn through the lineup. Notably, Dan Hamhuis was paired with Yannik Weber on the third pairing at the morning skate. Possibly because of the continued struggles he has had? Not sure.

This was how the morning skate looked:

Sedin-Sedin-Vrbata

Higgins-Bonin-Burrows

Matthias-Richardson-Jensen

Dorsett-Vey_Hansen

Edler-Tanev

Stanton-Bieksa

Hamhuis-Weber

Miller

And for Arizona, things remain more or less unchanged from their normal lineup, aside from Dubnyk likely drawing in for Smith:

Boedker-Vermette-Doan

Korpikoski-Hanzal-Erat

McMillan-Gagner-Crombeen

Klinkhammer-Vitale-Rieder

Yandle-Ekman-Larsson

Michalek-Murphy

Schlemko-Stone

Dubnyk

PREGAME BATTLE HYMN

I just saw a Gorilla Biscuits reunion show at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX. It was awesome. I felt like I was 14 again.

BEER OF THE GAME

Victory!!!

victory beer

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

- 1 Drink: First mention of this being Vrbata's old team

- 1 Drink: Vrbata records a point

- 2 Drinks: Dubnyk "you suck" chants start in the first period

- 2 Drinks: Jensen goal

- 3 Drinks: Vrbata hatty

- 3 Drinks: Vrbata laser eyes on camera (you know what I'm talking about)

- CHUG: Vrbata OT GWG

Parting thoughts from David Brent:

SCORE PREDICTION WIZARD UPDATE

Sean got this updated over the weekend. See, we all CAN get along.

Stats compiled from: nhl.com, hockeystats.ca, war-on-ice.com and puckalytics.com