Dog day in store for Canucks

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

A tough task awaits the streaking Canucks tonight when one of the NHL's hottest goaltender comes to town, bringing with him an overachieving team that sits fourth in the West.

While Vancouver has the first star of December in Henrik Sedin, the Phoenix Coyotes have the second in netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. The Team Russia-bound goalie, who is fourth in save percentage (.926) and third in GAA (2.08), has led the Desert Dogs to an impressive 26-14-4 record, just a year after they finished 13th in the conference.

Despite all their success this season, the Coyotes are surprisingly ranked 22nd overall in goals per game. They are also one of only five teams without a 30-point player yet this season, and only have three players in double digits in goals. Chalk one up to Dave Tippett's defensive-minded system.

The Canucks are at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to scoring. They rank fourth with an average of 3.19 goals per game, and have recorded five goals or more in eight games this season. Also, five players have already reached the 30-point plateau, led by Henrik, who was the NHL scoring leader prior to yesterday's games.

"I'm really happy for the way our line is playing," said Henrik about Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows, a line that has combined for 35 points in the last seven games. "It's a lot easier coming out the rink when you're having fun on the ice, and that's what we have right now."

Besides Bryzgalov, the Coyotes have two other players in the Olympics: Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) and Sami Lepisto (Finland).

Phoenix halted Vancouver's bid for a four-game winning streak with a 3-2 shootout win just over a week ago, and are in a position tonight to snap the Canucks' three straight wins again.


Videos

Photos