Western Conference NHL Picks and Tips: Vancouver at Phoenix
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The league-leading Vancouver Canucks conclude their six-game road trip in the desert as they face off against the red-hot Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday. Vancouver is 3-1-1 on its trek and has earned at least one point in 10 of its last 11 away from home (8-1-2). Overall, the Canucks are 12-1-4 in their last 17 contests.
Phoenix has been nearly unbeatable of late as it has collected 21 of a possible 22 points in February (10-0-1) to overtake San Jose for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes have won six straight at home and five in a row overall.
Vancouver Canucks (40-16-7): Vancouver was one of the busiest teams at Monday's trade deadline, acquiring center Samuel Pahlsson from Columbus, right wing Andrew Gordon from Anaheim and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani and right wing Zack Kassian from Buffalo. The deal with the Sabres was the most costly as the club parted with blueliner Alexander Sulzer and center Cody Hodgson, who registered 16 goals and 17 assists in 63 games. The 22-year-old Hodgson is tied for second in goals by a rookie, two behind Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog.
Phoenix Coyotes (32-21-9): Considering the team has surged to the top of the Pacific, general manager Don Maloney stood pat at the trade deadline. "We've been playing terrific hockey in the month of February (and) I didn't want to touch the mix on our current roster," Maloney said. "There was nothing out there that made sense. We just said, 'Why fool around with a good thing?' " Mike Smith has been in net for all of Phoenix's 10 victories this month. During his winning streak, Smith has posted two shutouts and allowed more than one goal only three times. Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata have been offensive forces. Whitney is riding a five-game points streak and has gotten on the scoresheet in 13 of the last 14 contests. Vrbata has averaged one point over his last 24 games, scoring 14 of his career-high 30 goals during that span.
Vancouver has won
the first two meetings this season by a combined 6-1 score.
2. The Coyotes have lost four of their last five showdowns with the Canucks.
NHL PREDICTION: Canucks 3, Coyotes 2
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