The Vancouver Canucks will be hoping to halt a two-game losing streak when they entertain the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena on Thursday night. Vancouver is coming off consecutive setbacks against Montreal and Toronto at the conclusion of a five-game road trip. The Coyotes had dropped three in a row before beating the Rangers this past Sunday.
Schmaltz on the shelf
Arizona got bad news on Wednesday when it was announced that center Nick Schmaltz–who recorded five goals and 14 points in 17 games since being acquired from Chicago–will miss the rest of the season with a lower-body injury.
“Nick came to us and was the dynamic, difference-making forward we had hoped he would be,” general manager John Chayka praised. “He’s a big loss for our team, but the injury provides more opportunity for our young players. The group has done an admirable job of filling in and competing hard every night.”
Arizona–five points behind the Canucks in the Pacific Division–salvaged the finale of a four-game home-stand (1-2-1) with a 5-0 victory over the Rangers this past Sunday. Rookie winger Conor Garland, whose broken hand in the preseason delayed his NHL debut until mid-December, has three of his five career goals in his last two games after scoring twice on Sunday. Alex Galchenyuk has four of his seven goals and six of his 14 assists in the last eight contests.
Arizona is third-worst in the league at 2.52 goals per game, with Brad Richardson (11) and Christian Fischer (10) the only players with double-digit goals. Clayton Keller leads the way with 30 points after recording his ninth goal against the Rangers. The Coyotes prevailed in the first of four meetings this season 4-1 on Oct. 25 behind 27 saves by Darcy Kuemper, improving to 5-1-1 in the last seven encounters with Vancouver.
Canucks also banged up
Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson, the prohibitive favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, will not play on Thursday. Pettersson was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after he was injured during last Thursday’s 2-0 loss in Montreal, but head coach Travis Green and the rest of the organization are breathing a sigh of relief.
“(Pettersson has a) slight sprain in his MCL, it’s not too bad,” Green said the 20-year-old Swede, who leads all rookies and the Canucks with 22 goals and 42 points. “Probably as good news as we could have hoped for…. We’re not going to rush him back. He’ll be back when he’s good and ready.”
Vancouver sits just outside of playoff position as it begins a six-game home-stand after completing a 3-3-0 road trip with a 5-0 loss to Toronto this past Saturday. Adam Gaudette, who has seven points in seven games with AHL Utica this season, was recalled to take Pettersson’s spot on the roster and could receive more opportunities than he got while recording two goals and six points in 31 games with the NHL club this season. Brock Boeser, the 2018 Calder Trophy runner-up, has 14 goals and 28 points but has been kept off the scoresheet in the last two games. He had previously delivered two goals and three assists during a four-game stretch.
The Vancouver Canucks are:
- 4-1 in their last five games against the Western Conference
- 4-1 in their last five games against teams with losing records
- 35-17 in their last 52 home games following a road trip of at least seven days
The Arizona Coyotes are:
- 5-11 in their last 16 overall
- 37-83 in their last 120 road games
- 16-36 in their last 52 road games against teams with losing home records