The NHL is set up with an exciting slate of games on Thursday night. Ten games will be up on the board throughout March 12. One of these games will be between the Vancouver Canucks and the Arizona Coyotes. These two teams are fighting for a playoff spot, which should lead to a solid game on Thursday night. This game will start at around 10:00 PM Eastern time.
Vancouver has earned a record of 36-27-6 to this point in the season, which has them in fourth place of the Pacific Division. The Canucks are currently one point behind the Calgary Flames and tied with the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets for a wild card spot. Vancouver is coming off a win in their last game, but has lost five of their last seven. They will look to earn a big win in this one.
The Coyotes have posted a record of 33-29-8 throughout this season. Arizona is currently in fifth place of the Pacific Division. The Coyotes are four points out of the three way tie for the wild card spots. Arizona is still in the thick of the playoff race though. The Coyotes have lost back to back games and will look to get back on track with a win at home over the Canucks.
These two teams are still fighting for the Western Conference playoff spots, which should lead to an intense game on Thursday night. The Canucks have had the better season so far, but they will look to hold off Arizona, who is hungry to get back into a playoff spot. These teams should come out fast to try and control the pace to earn the win.
The Canucks and the Coyotes met for the first time this season in Vancouver on January 16. Christian Dvorak got Arizona on the board early, but it would not be enough. Elias Pettersson had two assists for the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom turned away 34 of the 35 shots he faced to help give Vancouver a solid 3-1 win at home.
The second game of the season series stayed was hosted by the Canucks on March 4. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson each scored early in the third to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead, but it was not enough. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes. Darcy Kuemper stopped 36 of the 38 shots against him to help give Arizona a 4-2 win.
These two teams have split the season series so far, which should help lead to a solid game on Thursday night. The first two games of the season series were close ones, which will give somethings to work on for both teams. The Coyotes will host the first game against Vancouver, and they will look for that to give them the edge on Thursday night.
The Canucks power play has been dangerous to this point in the season. Vancouver has capitalized on 57 of their 236 power play chances, which is a 24.2 percent power play. The Canucks penalty kill has been doing solid as well. Vancouver has held opposing teams to 42 goals on 215 attempts, which is an 80.5 percent kill rate.
Arizona’s power play has been slightly below the league average this season. The Coyotes have scored on 41 of their 214 power play chances, which is a 19.2 percent success rate. Arizona’s penalty kill has been slightly better though. The Coyotes have allowed their opponents to score on 34 of their 197 opportunities, which is an 82.7 percent penalty kill.
The Canucks have the better special teams overall this season. Vancouver’s power play has been lethal. The Canucks have also been able to draw quite a few penalties this season, but Arizona has been good about staying out of the box. If the Coyotes can stay disciplined in this one, they could avoid give the Canucks the advantage on special teams.
I expect Thatcher Demko to get the nod in net for Vancouver on Thursday night. Demko has put up a record of 13-10-2 through his 25 starts this season. He has posted a save percentage of .905 and a 3.06 GAA. Demko’s last start came against the New York Rangers, where he stopped 45 of the 49 shots against him in a win for the Canucks.
Darcy Kuemper will likely get the start in the crease for the Coyotes in this matchup. Kuemper has earned a record of 16-11-2 through 29 starts this season. He has put up a .928 save percentage and a GAA of 2.22. Kuemper’s last start was against the Winnipeg Jets, where he stopped 30 of the 33 shots against him for a tough loss.
Kuemper has been the better goalie this season for Arizona. Demko has stepped up in his recent performances, earning a save percentage above .900 in his last four starts. Kuemper has been great for the Coyotes all season long and Arizona will lean on him as they try and knock off the Canucks. If Demko can keep stepping up though, it could give the Canucks a good chance in this one.
These two teams have had solid seasons so far, which I think will translate into a good game on Thursday night. I believe that the Canucks have a good chance to come out strong and earn a win in this one. Vancouver has the edge on special teams in this one and if they can get a good start from Demko, it could really help them pull off the road upset.
BetOnline has Arizona listed as a -138 against the money line for this game. This implies that the Coyotes will win this game around 58 percent of the time. I think that this game should be much closer to even. The Canucks have been the better team this season. The first two games of the season series were close, which means Vancouver has a lot of value as big underdogs.