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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game 11 - Vancouver Canucks @ Arizona Coyotes

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Are any Vancouver Canucks left after a barrage of injuries?

Vancouver Canucks v Arizona Coyotes
Alex Goligoski #33 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck ahead of Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks during the third period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on February 25, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canucks defeated the Coyotes 3-1.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks (6-4-0) @ Arizona Coyotes (3-5-0)

Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale, AZ

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific

Where to Listen: SN 650

Opposition Blog: Five for Howling

Here’s a cakewalk game in the making.

It’s the first overall team in the Pacific Division (your Vancouver Canucks, ladies and gentlemen), against the Arizona Coyotes who have a measly six points in eight games.

Slap on your apron and roll out the red carpet. We have a cakewalk in the making.

Yeah, so the Canucks did lose their two best defencemen to injury last night, and Sven Baertschi likely won’t suit up either. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson are also still on the shelf but hey, we’re talking about the number one team in the division here. Why lose faith now?

The Canucks

Projected Lines

Forwards

Brendan Leipsic - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin - Adam Gaudette - Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen

Tim Schaller - Markus Granlund - Tyler Motte.

Defence

Michael Del Zotto - Chris Tanev

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

Derrick Pouliot - Troy Stecher

Projected Starter: Anders Nilsson

On the shelf: Brock Boeser (groin, GTD), Elias Pettersson (concussion), Alex Edler (lower body), Sven Baertschi (concussion), Chris Tanev (uhh, everything? Still a GTD)

With no game day skate and no update as of writing, these are mainly my guesses of how the lineup will look. I’m assuming Tanev and Boeser tough out their injuries, motivated by wanting to play in front of their dad’s.

Last night was epitomized what you could call a “classic” Canucks game this season. The team generally worked hard, got some good chances, but still got outshot and outplayed. Oh, and they lost guys to injury.

Seriously, why does this team get injured so much? Sounds like a topic for one of those famous” “deep dives,” but here’s my shallow, two cents dive.

This year, the Canucks lead the league in blocked shots. That was the reason for Tanev’s injury last night, and Jay Beagle’s injury against the Panthers. Even though the Canucks ranked 25th overall in blocked shots last year, Tanev still missed significant time due to injuries from blocked shots.

Another theory? The Canucks are unlucky in that they roster injury-prone players. Tanev is a poor man’s Salo, while players like Erik Gudbranson, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi have also missed significant time during their tenures in Vancouver.

The correct theory, as well all know, is that the injury faeries have invaded Vancouver. Damn Jimmi, you had me sleeping with one eye open after last night’s game recap.

Because of these injuries, a couple of Canucks should make their season debuts tonight. Here’s the latest on who will be joining the team.

Alex Biega and Guillaume Brisebois have been officially recalled to the Canucks. People might be wondering why Olli Juolevi isn’t being recalled, but my thought is that the Canucks want to bring him up when he has a chance of sticking permanently.

While fans might be curious to see how Brisebois will play in his potential NHL debut, you could make the argument that this defence could be one of the worst that the Canucks are icing throughout their tenure in the league’s basement.

Things are equally as dire on offence, but what really matters is the play of Bo Horvat. With Boeser and Pettersson out of the lineup, you knew Horvat would have to factor into the scoring if the Canucks were going to win.

Whaddaya know, Huncho Horvat pots the ‘Nucks only two goals. It would have been fitting Horvat scored the winner, but the oft-forgotten Markus Granlund got it done despite his pessimism surrounding the current roster.

The ‘Yotes

Assuming the Coyotes don’t tinker with a winning roster, here were their line combinations from their last game.

Forwards

Lawson Crouse - Alex Galchenyuk - Clayton Keller

Brendan Perlini -Derek Stepan - Christian Fischer

Michael Grabner - Brad Richardson - Vince Hinostroza

Nick Cousins - Dylan Strome - Josh Archibald

Defence

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Jason Demers

Alex Goligoski - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Kevin Connauton - Jordan Oesterle

Confirmed Starter: Darcy Kuemper

On the shelf: Antti Raanta (sick), Christian Dvorak (pectoral), Jakob Chychrun (ACL)

Okay, so I went out on a but of a limb by saying that the Coyotes will make the playoffs this year. I’ve been ripped for it too. The Coyotes were shut out in three of their first four games and didn’t score an even-strength goal until their fifth game of the season.

However, the Coyotes were getting chances in during their first few games, and their luck has changed over the past three contests. They scored at least three goals in three straight games, registering two wins in those contests. Their only loss came against the Winnipeg Jets in a game where they registered 45 shots.

Underrated Yotes offence + injured Canucks defence = yikes.

This will have to be a big game for Anders Nilsson if the Canucks are going to have any hope of winning tonight. Players to watch for include Clayton Keller and Christian Fischer. Keller has scored three goals in the last three games, while Fischer notched a hat trick in the Coyotes latest game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alex Galchenyuk will also play just his second game of the season for the Coyotes.

This is the beginning of a five-game home stand for Arizona. They are actually winless (and goalless) at home this season in two contests (1-0 loss to Anaheim, 3-0 loss to Buffalo).

Game Day Battle Hymn

While not an Arizona native, Alice Cooper did get recognized as a musician in the state during the late 1960’s.

When you your top pairing might be Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson, you’ve 100% gone desperado.

Enjoy the game folks.