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GAME DAY: Canucks vs Coyotes

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What? Stop looking at me like that. You didn't think they were gonna win, either. After walking into LA and giving them a taste of their own medicine, the banged-up road warriors march into the desert with a different challenge awaiting them: can they provide enough defence for Jacob Markstrom to win a game?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Time 5:00 PM PST
TV City
H2H Last 5
2-1 Coyotes
Last Meeting
3-2 Coyotes Mar 5/15
The Enemy Five For Howling coring Leaders D. Sedin: 16-46-61
Yandle 4-37-41
Canucks
CATEGORY
Coyotes
41-26-4 SEASON RECORD 21-43-8
86 Points 50
2nd Division Position 7th
Won 1
Streak Lost 5
2.80 (12)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
1.99 (29)
2.68 (20)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
3.25 (28)
17.2 (20) Power Play % 20.2 (7)
85.5 (3) Penalty Kill % 78.4 (26)
47.3 (28) Faceoff Win % 51.7 (7)
11.1 PIM / GP 9.4
48.9 (22) Corsi For % 48.1 (24)
100.5 (13) PDO 96.9 (30)

After the garbage we endured last season with this team, how good was it to see the Canucks play a game like that in March? This is a team that has done quite well on the road this season, but there was one thing remaining: that elusive win at the Staples Center. While it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that the Canucks could get a win, few if any could have imagined that they would do it by actually standing up to the Kings. As Dan would say, the Canucks learned how to play Big Boy Hockey, and it looks good on 'em.

From the stellar performance by Eddie Lack, to the Sedins not just driving play and leading by example, but actually getting under the skin of the onegoalie that overreacts more than Mike Smith, to the line of Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Chris Higgins looking more like it was November than March. It wasn't just the Canucks best players being their best yesterday, it was a solid team effort that, while not flawless, sends a huge message to the teams in the West: this is a team that actually can go toe to toe with anyone. Sure, it's one game. But it's a game no one thought they would win, let alone win that way.

Today, the task is simple: Don't let up. This Coyotes team has twice taken valuable points from the Canucks this season, and now is not the time for them to be slumpbusters for Arizona. Mired in the midst of a 5 game losing streak, the Coyotes are in full tank mode to keep Connor McDavid from ending up with the Leafs or Oilers, and while I would hate to see a divisional rival get better, this team has a playoff spot to lock down. Arizona is 1-16-1 in their last 18, but that win? Yeah. Let's not let that happen again, boys. They're also coming off a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.

It still remains to be seen if the Canucks will have Alex Burrows available tonight. Burrows played only one shift after the gutless crosscheck from Tyler Toffoli, and will be evaluated before the game. As mentioned, Jacob Markstrom will get the start, and you can be sure Willie Desjardins and his staff have hammered home the importance of providing him the support he needs to allow them to get out of this weekend swing with 2 points and return for a big game Tuesday against Winnipeg.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Dethrone were a Finnish thrash act that wasn't around for long, but released two pretty solid albums before calling it a day. Not genre-changing by any stretch, but decent enough to get your head bangin' along. Funny how Norway rules black metal, the Swedes are the kings of death metal, but neither can touch the Finns when it comes to thrash.

IMPROMPTU DRINKING GAME RULES

- 1 drink: If the Sportsnet panel insists on writing the Kings in the post-season

- 1 drink: Vrbata gets booed again.

- 2 drinks: For every minute of airtime used to try and make us think Shane Doan isn't a rat bastard.

- 2 drinks: Canucks goal scored with Mike Smith behind his own net

- 3 drinks: If Smith goes the whole game without a) giant, arm-flailing flop b) 2 handed over-reaction slash on a Canuck or c) pushing the net off/smashing his stick

- 3 drinks: Jeremy Roenick mention