Game Day: Canucks look to kick-start slumping power play vs. Coyotes

 

 
 
 
 
Canucks rookie Jared McCann celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal earlier this season in Arizona against the Coyotes. McCann, who will be back in the team's lineup tonight after being sat out last game against Anaheim, derives some confidence from getting on the scoresheet the last time the Canucks and the Desert Dogs met. 'Knowing that I did score before, it gives me more confidence that, hey, I can get more chances tonight and put pucks to the net and that type of thing,' he says.
 

Canucks rookie Jared McCann celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal earlier this season in Arizona against the Coyotes. McCann, who will be back in the team's lineup tonight after being sat out last game against Anaheim, derives some confidence from getting on the scoresheet the last time the Canucks and the Desert Dogs met. 'Knowing that I did score before, it gives me more confidence that, hey, I can get more chances tonight and put pucks to the net and that type of thing,' he says.

Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images

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VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks have managed to do something lately that is difficult in today's NHL — collect points without the help of some power-play goals.

The Canucks have gone nine games without a contribution from their power play and hope to bump that slump tonight when they play host to the Arizona Coyotes (7 p.m. Pacific time, on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040).

"If you look at how we were successful last year, we were successful with our speciality teams," coach Willie Desjardins said today. "This year it's kind of surprising that with our schedule, with our injuries and with our special teams being where they're at, that we are hanging in there.

"A good sign for us is hopefully all those things change, the injured players come back, our schedule is less hectic and all of a sudden our special teams come around."

The Canucks' power play has fallen to 28th in the NHL and has converted just 16 per cent of its opportunities this season.

"If we can win the specialty teams game, if your PK is better than their power play and vice versa, you usually end up winning," said Vancouver forward Radim Vrbata. "Hopefully we can score a couple on the power play and our PK can do the job."

The Canucks enter tonight's game below the playoff bar. They trail the Coyotes by a single point in the crowded Pacific Division standings.

"It's crazy," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said of the standings. “L.A. has kind of pushed ahead a little bit here, but it's just so tight. Every day it flip-flops. We're just trying to hang in there. We've got a mindset of trying to get points. I think we have points in eight of our last 10 and you have to do that just to stay in the pack."

The Canucks will make at least one lineup change for tonight's game. Rookie centre Jared McCann, who was a healthy scratch in Friday night's win over the Anaheim Ducks, will draw back in. Ronald Kenins will sit to make room for McCann, who scored a goal when the Canucks beat the Coyotes 4-3 in Arizona back on Oct. 30.

"You go in with more confidence, I guess," McCann said today. "Knowing that I did score before, it gives me more confidence that, hey, I can get more chances tonight and put pucks to the net and that type of thing."

The Canucks have recalled winger Alex Grenier from the Utica Comets. Grenier was summoned when Brandon Prust was unable to practise Sunday with a leg injury.

But Prust staked this morning and is expected to play tonight.

That means Grenier probably sits. He played one game for the Canucks back on Nov. 18 in Winnipeg.

"When he played in Winnipeg he had a good game," Desjardins said of Grenier. "He skated better than I thought he would and he created some opportunities."

The Coyotes, who are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss Saturday in Edmonton, have feasted on fellow Pacific Division teams this season. Arizona is 7-1-2 vs. the Pacific this season.

"That has given us an opportunity of being in the talk of the playoffs," said Arizona captain Shane Doan, who leads the Coyotes with 13 goals and was the NHL's second star of the week this past week.

"They skate well and they are in the same position we are," Doan said of the Canucks. "When they're good, they're good and there have been a couple of games they'd probably like to have back. The same for us. They have some younger guys in the lineup and some veteran guys we know really well."

Jacob Markstrom will make his fifth straight start in goal tonight for the Canucks. Louis Dominique will start for the Coyotes.

• INJURIES:

The Canucks are without G Ryan Miler (groin); LW Sven Baertschi (neck), C Brandon Sutter (sports hernia surgery); D Luca Sbisa (hand) and D Dan Hamhuis (facial fractures).

The Coyotes are missing C Martin Hanzal (lower-body); C Boyd Gordon (head); G Mike Smith (lower-body) and C Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone).

• ICE CHIPS: Ghislain Hebert and Kevin Pollack are tonight's referees … This is the fourth game of a seven-game homestand for the Canucks, who play host to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night. Former Canuck Eddie Lack is expected to start in goal for Carolina in that game.

bziemer@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Canucks rookie Jared McCann celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal earlier this season in Arizona against the Coyotes. McCann, who will be back in the team's lineup tonight after being sat out last game against Anaheim, derives some confidence from getting on the scoresheet the last time the Canucks and the Desert Dogs met. 'Knowing that I did score before, it gives me more confidence that, hey, I can get more chances tonight and put pucks to the net and that type of thing,' he says.
 

Canucks rookie Jared McCann celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal earlier this season in Arizona against the Coyotes. McCann, who will be back in the team's lineup tonight after being sat out last game against Anaheim, derives some confidence from getting on the scoresheet the last time the Canucks and the Desert Dogs met. 'Knowing that I did score before, it gives me more confidence that, hey, I can get more chances tonight and put pucks to the net and that type of thing,' he says.

Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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