Following a potential season-saving victory on Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks will visit the Arizona Coyotes. Here’s your gameday preview.
There’s a chance that the Vancouver Canucks won’t end up finishing their playoff push as we enter the final stages of the 2019-20 regular season.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced that they’re suspending the 2019-20 season due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, and it’s widely believed that the NHL will follow suit. The San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets have already announced that their looming home contests will be played without any spectators.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Wednesday evening that the NHL will provide an update on Thursday. Until then, the Canucks and Coyotes will prepare for a crucial Pacific Division showdown.
Vancouver is tied with the Nashville Predators for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Preds hold the tiebreaker due to having 28 regulation wins compared to Vancouver’s 27. The Coyotes (74 points) are running out of time to gain ground, and the Canucks have a chance to put a serious dent in their playoff hopes tonight.
Players to watch
Tyler Toffoli: What a pickup Toffoli has been for the Canucks. He has six goals and four assists in 10 games with his new team, serving as the perfect fit on the top line during Brock Boeser‘s absence. Can this Stanley Cup winner continue his hot pace in Vancouver’s biggest game of the year?
Phil Kessel: He hasn’t performed up to expectations with his new team, but Kessel can still take a game over at any point. Arizona will count on his experience (two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins) to guide them through now or never time.
J.T. Miller: Vancouver’s leading scorer (72 points) has 15 points over his last 10 games. He’s already set career-highs in goals and points. None of that will matter to Miller if the Canucks don’t make the playoffs, though. They simply can’t waste his dream season.
Nick Schmaltz: The 24-year-old leads Arizona with 45 points, and without him, the Coyotes wouldn’t be in the playoff race right now. He has three goals in his last two games, including a tally in their 4-2 win against the Canucks on March 4.
Prediction: 4-3 Canucks
Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet really seems to have his way with Vancouver. They always have problems against his effective defensive system, but things will be different tonight.
Toffoli is scoring at a torrid pace, and Boeser’s return changes everything up front. When all is said and done, Vancouver will get four goals from their top two lines as they skate away with a 4-3 win.