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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 61: CANUCKS vs ARIZONA

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With just 2 games left before Monday’s trade deadline, the Canucks have a lot of decisions to make.

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

Vancouver Canucks (26-27-7) vs Arizona Coyotes (27-28-5)

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

When: 7:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific

SB Nation Opposition Blog: Five For Howling

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Trade for picks? Upgrade for a potential playoff run? Stand pat? Dump salary? There’s a lot that the Canucks could do. There’s a lot that the Canucks should do. In the end, we’re going to have to let things play out, and let the circumstances that effect what they’re going to do happen. One of the biggest things is some clarification on the status of injured players. Alexander Edler remains the biggest question mark. The pending UFA has a no movement clause, and is still on the IR. He has been skating with the team, meaning he could be close to returning to the lineup, but his recent injury may have taken any potential opportunity to approach him about waiving his NMC out of the picture.

As they wait to get Edler and Christopher Tanev back in the lineup, the Canucks have put two calls into Utica, bringing up Ashton Sautner and Luke Schenn. Talk about two players at different points in their career. The two have been playing as a pairing in Utica and we probably shouldn’t expect to see them do so here as well. Sautner’s put together a fine season for the Comets and is being rewarded with the call up, while Schenn is hoping to get a chance to play another game in the NHL after spending the entire year in the AHL. It does look like he’ll still be in the press box tonight though, while Sautner should be in the lineup.

This will also mark the Canucks debut of Ryan Spooner. They’re certainly giving him a chance to show the team what he’s capable of by putting him on a line with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Maybe there’s some instant chemistry there? Or maybe the Oilers broke him like they have so many others.

So what will the Canucks do on Monday? A lot of it rides on the outcome of tonight’s game as well as Saturday’s tilt against the surprising New York Islanders. 2 wins could see the Canucks still in the mix, and maybe Jim Benning makes a move to solidify the Canucks back end. 2 losses and they will find themselves in the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. That’s how messed up their situation is, and none of it is guaranteed either way.

The Canucks have had trouble against the Coyotes this season, and you have to wonder how this team might have faired if not for their massive injury issues, ones that make the Canucks look tame by comparison. One of the reasons the Coyotes have been hanging around has been their penalty kill. It’s the best in the NHL, and will be something to watch tonight, as not only do they kill off penalties better than anyone else, they also score more shorthanded goals than anyone, making the necessity for the Canucks PP to connect tonight even greater.

Not only is it odd that both of these teams are playing meaningful hockey games in the tail end of February, they’re playing them against each other. I suppose that’s all either fan base could ask for given what these two teams have endured this season.

Here’s what we should see lineup-wise tonight via the Province:

Canucks’ game day lines

LW — C — RW

Ryan Spooner — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Josh LeivoBo HorvatTyler Motte

Antoine RousselAdam GaudetteMarkus Granlund

Loui ErikssonJay BeagleZack MacEwen

Defence pairings

Ben HuttonTroy Stecher

Derrick PouliotAlex Biega

Ashton SautnerErik Gudbranson

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Marek Mazanec

Coyotes’ game day lines

LW — C — RW

Lawson CrouseDerek StepanJosh Archibald

Alex GalchenyukNick CousinsClayton Keller

Mario KempeBrad RichardsonVinnie Hinostroza

Conor GarlandJordan WealChristian Fischer

Defence pairings

Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Nik Hjalmarsson

Alex GoligoskiJakob Chychrun

Ilya LyubushkinJordan Oesterle

Goalies: Darcy Kuemper, Calvin Pickard

Sick Bay

Canucks: Sven Baertschi (post-concussion syndrome), Thatcher Demko (knee), Alex Edler (concussion), Brandon Sutter (groin), Chris Tanev (ankle), Jake Virtanen (rib)

Coyotes: Christian Dvorak (lower body), Jason Demers (lower body), Antti Raanta (lower body), Michael Grabner (eye), Nick Schmaltz (lower body), Kyle Capobianco (lower body), Richard Panik (ill)

Special teams

Power play: Canucks: 15.8% (26th), Coyotes: 17.3% (22nd)

Penalty kill Canucks: 80.3% (17th), Coyotes: 85.6% (1st)

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: Arizona thrash metal legends Sacred Reich are returning with their first album since 1996. They’re touring North America this spring with Iron Reagan, Leeway and Enforcer, in addition to doing a ton of European dates. I cannot wait to hear the new stuff. In the meantime, here’s a clip of them doing ‘Death Squad’ at the Dynamo Festival in the Netherlands probably around 1990.