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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 46: Canucks vs Arizona

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The Canucks have limped home, full of more questions than answers after a miserable road trip. Also, it’s Star Wars Night, I guess...?

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (20-21-4) vs Arizona Coyotes (18-21-3)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: SNP

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Five For Howling

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: If you had any doubts about the Canucks ability to make the post-season dance, you might want to listen closely to them now. After a road trip that could be look at as a disaster at best, the Canucks are far from being contenders, even as close as they currently are in the standings. We’ve used Sports Club Stats over the years as a great resource for tracking the odds of the team making it to the post-season. This year’s numbers are as ugly as that game Saturday night.

Right now, the Canucks are essentially a .500 team. If they continue to play at that pace, that gives them around a 10% chance of making the playoffs. 10%. For the odds to get over the 50% threshold? They’d need to finish with 90 pts. That means going 21-12-4 the rest of the way. Sure, the rest of the month is nothing but dogs, as the Canucks don’t meet a playoff team aside from the Buffalo Sabres, who are clinging to a Wild Card spot right now, so that makes 5 games of 6 that you could say are winnable to give the Sabres the benefit of the doubt. Seems okay, right? Then February hits, and it could get ugly. Colorado and San Jose twice, Calgary and Washington, plus Anaheim twice. You also have games against Chicago, Los Angeles and two more against Arizona. Even if the Canucks run the table the rest of January, can you say with any degree of confidence they can keep it going through the gauntlet that is their February schedule? I ask you, Canuckleheads who constantly call out anyone who tries to point out this team has light years to go still: How is this a sign that we should be thinking about the post-season?

Ahead of tonight’s game, the Canucks recalled Adam Gaudette after moving Elias Pettersson to the IR. That means we may not see Pettersson back in the lineup for that Sunday afternoon game in Florida, which much like the Toronto game last week is one people have had circled on their calendars. The best revenge would be EP lighting up the Panthers and making Matheson look like a pylon again, but we may not get that because we just don’t get to have nice things.

I would be wary of writing this game up as an easy 2 points, though. Arizona’s a better road team than they are at home, and handled the Canucks easily in their previous meeting this season, a 4-1 loss out in the desert wasteland.

Here’s some pregame reading to get you up to speed for tonight’s contest... The Canucks are looking pretty bad on the PP right now, and go up against the NHL’s best PK tonight. Can Nikolay Goldobin shake things up for the power play? Adam Gaudette got things going offensively in Utica after being sent down. Ben Kuzma on whether he can keep it rolling this time... Botch on Pettersson having a bigger impact on the Canucks than any other player in the NHL for their team...

via the Province, here’s what we should see tonight in terms of lines:

CANUCKS’ LINES

Forwards

Nikolay GoldobinBo HorvatBrock Boeser

Sven Baertschi — Adam Gaudette — Jake Virtanen

Antoine RousselBrandon SutterMarkus Granlund

Loui ErikssonJay BeagleTyler Motte

Defence

Alex Edler — Chris Tanev

Ben HuttonErik Gudbranson

Derrick PouliotTroy Stecher

Goalies

Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko

COYOTES’ LINES

Forwards

Clayton KellerDerek StepanChristian Fischer

Richard PanikBrad RichardsonVinnie Hinostroza

Alex GalchenyukNick CousinsConor Garland

Lawson CrouseMario KempeJosh Archibald

Defence

Oliver Ekman-LarssonNiklas Hjalmarsson

Jakob ChychrunIlya Lyubushkin

Jordan OesterleAlex Goligoski

Goal

Darcy Kuemper, Adin Hill

SICK BAY

Canucks: Elias Pettersson (MCL knee sprain, IR), Josh Leivo (back spasms, IR).

Coyotes: Nick Schmaltz (knee, season ending), Christian Dvorak (lower body, IR), Jason Demers (lower body, IR), Antti Raanta (lower body, IR), Michael Grabner (eye, IR), Kevin Connauton (lower body).

SPECIAL TEAMS

Power play

Canucks: 20th (17.6%); Coyotes: 22nd (16.9%)

Penalty kill

Canucks: 22nd (78.0%); Coyotes: 1st (83.2%)