Tuesday NHL: Coyotes (100 points) at Canucks (94 points)
The Phoenix Coyotes enter Tuesday night’s game with Vancouver currently four points behind the Sharks for the No.1 overall seed in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for Phoenix, it is in the same division as San Jose, so not winning the division means the team would slip all the way to fourth in the West pecking order for the playoffs – and that could mean a first-round matchup with streaking Detroit.
Vancouver, which is a -175 moneyline favorite for tonight’s game on WagerWeb.com, is comfortably ahead in the Northwest Division and seems a lock to finish as the West’s No. 3 for the postseason.
In a perfect world for the Coyotes, they will win the West and match up against Colorado or Los Angeles, the teams likely to land the No. 8 seed. If the Coyotes remain in fourth, and Nashville ends up fifth, that, too, could tilt in favor of the Coyotes because they have had success against the Predators. But Detroit is rising up the standings and seems almost likely to overtake Nashville for the No. 5 spot. The Coyotes are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and have given up fewer goals (187) than any other Western Conference team.
Phoenix center Robert Lang (lower-body injury) is close to getting back. He skated for about 30 minutes Monday but won’t be ready to return tonight.
Forwards Henrik (101 points) and Daniel Sedin (75) lead the Canucks in scoring. G Roberto Luongo has 37 victories. Henrik Sedin has seven assists in the Canucks’ last four games, eclipsing 100 points for the first time and retaining the NHL scoring lead by a point over Alex Ovechkin. Vancouver defenseman Shane O’Brien was sent home yesterday after arriving to practice late and won’t play tonight. Vancouver has only two wins in its last six games.
This is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these. Phoenix has won a pair of shootouts, including 4-3 in the most recent matchup on March 10. The Canucks’ Alexandre Burrows recorded a hat trick and Luongo stopped all 31 shots he faced for his 50th NHL shutout in Vancouver’s lone win, 4-0 on Jan. 7.