VANCOUVER Authentic Saquon Barkley Jersey , British Columbia — The Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs several weeks ago, but they still have something to play for Thursday night.
The Canucks (30-40-10) will strive to earn a win against the Phoenix Coyotes (29-40-11) as twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin play their final home for the only NHL club they have known.
“We definitely want to make their last game here memorable and (we) want to try and get a win for them,” rookie Canucks winger Adam Gaudette told reporters Wednesday after an optional practice.
A sellout crowd is expected for the second straight game, with tickets again fetching premium prices, after the Sedins announced their retirement Monday. Daniel Sedin told reporters that Thursday’s contest will stand out more in their minds than the boisterous scene Tuesday, when the Canucks lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in a shootout in which both Sedins participated.
“It’s a chance for us to thank the fans, it’s more that than anything else,” Daniel Sedin said. “Time flies. It will be over before we know it. We’re going to enjoy it and treat it like a normal game. (Thursday) will be more emotional. I think that’s when you realize … you’ve probably taken your last steps on the ice. It will be special.”
Several tributes are planned for the 37-year-olds during the game as their parents, two older brothers and other friends and former teammates join the crowd.
Among other special happenings, the club’s nightly 50/50 will start at C$400,000 and lights outside Rogers Arena and within Vancouver’s city limits will shine blue and yellow (Sweden’s colors) in tribute to the Swedish siblings.
The Sedins’ teammates plan to enjoy the occasion Alex Colome Seattle Mariners Jersey , too.
“It’s the end of an era,” center Bo Horvat, who is a strong candidate to replace Henrik Sedin as captain next season, told reporters. “It’s the end of an amazing career for those guys.
“To be part of it is really special for me.”
Although the Canucks and Coyotes will miss the playoffs, the game — the second-last for each club — holds some significance in the standings. With a win, Arizona can move a point ahead of the Canucks and leave Vancouver last in the Western Conference. Thursday’s result could also affect the teams’ 2018 draft position, depending on how lottery balls fall.
The Canucks and Coyotes have been playing well, much to the chagrin of fans who want them to tank during the stretch run and improve their draft hopes. Vancouver has won five of seven games, while Arizona has two straight victories and six in the past eight outings.
The Canucks might need to worry about one of their former players. Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton, who was drafted by the Canucks and spent most of his time in their farm system, has been on a scoring tear lately.
He scored the winning goal and added an assist in Arizona’s 4-1 victory over Calgary on Tuesday and has 10 goals since the all-star break — after scoring only once in his first 42 games.
“I’m playing a lot more confident — using my skating Kolton Miller Color Rush Jersey , using my shot,” the 28-year-old, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, told reporters. “(I) had a rough year last year with injuries and then sitting out (as a healthy scratch.) So the beginning of the year, I was still trying to get back to my game, but I think I’m back there now.”
Connauton might see more playing time than usual Thursday. Fellow Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who was injured in Calgary, will not be in the lineup. The Coyotes recalled Dakota Mermis from the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League to fill in for him.
Chychrun suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury when he was tripped from behind by Calgary’s Michael Frolik. Arizona coach Rick Tocchet took exception to Frolik’s action.
“I know he’s not a dirty player, but it’s a dirty play,” Tocchet told reporters. “I don’t like it at all.”
HOUSTON — While it certainly factored into the sluggish start that greased the skids to their demise in Game 1, the Utah Jazz were inundated with a number of causes behind their loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday in addition to the absence of starting point guard Ricky Rubio.
Defensively Logan Paulsen Color Rush Jersey , the Jazz were overrun by the Rockets’ exceptional 3-point shooting (17 for 32) and victimized early by some leaky transition defense. Rockets guard James Harden again tormented the Utah defense, cashing in seven 3s en route to a game-high 41 points, and the Jazz lacked energy in the first half following a short turnaround from the completion of their first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder less than 48 hours prior to tipoff.
But the Jazz clearly missed Rubio, despite recording 20 assists on 38 field goals. While rookie guard Donovan Mitchell and veteran swingman Joe Ingles produced five assists each, and Utah received steady play from guards Dante Exum and Alec Burks off the bench, the Jazz didn’t quite have that same verve that Rubio provides with his ball-handling skill and passing acumen.
“I think it makes Donovan handle the ball more than they would like,” said Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, who drew the primary defensive assignment on Mitchell. “He’s their dominant scorer at this point so when he has to handle the ball and get everybody involved in the game, it kind of takes away from him scoring the ball all the time or being aggressive all the time.”
The Jazz also missed the defensive presence of center Rudy Gobert, despite the fact that Gobert logged 35 minutes in the 110-96 loss. A Defensive Player of the Year candidate and league leader by a healthy margin in defensive real plus-minus, Gobert was a non-factor on that end Terrelle Pryor Sr. Color Rush Jersey , failing to record a block for the first time this postseason and just the eighth time overall.
Gobert averaged 2.3 blocks and ranked second in the NBA in block percentage (6.0), yet the Rockets had success attacking the rim with Gobert stationed there to defend it, shooting 8 of 9 with Gobert within three feet of the rim. The key to their success? Doing what comes naturally.
“We just try to be us as much as possible,” Rockets guard Chris Paul said. “I think James said it after last game: We’ve seen just about every defense you can have this past season, so if they switch, we adjust. If you back (up to protect the rim), we adjust. We just keep playing.”
Utah, conversely, can’t afford to maintain the status quo. The Rockets rode robust shooting to a 27-point, first-half lead and continued to exploit a Jazz defense that has stifled almost every other opponent. Harden averaged 34.3 points on 55.4 percent shooting against Utah during the season and looked alarmingly at ease attacking the Jazz off the dribble and from the perimeter.
Rubio, out with a left hamstring strain Authentic Saquon Barkley Jersey , won’t be available to save the Jazz on offense. Defensively, Utah understands exactly what is required to ensure a superior performance.
“It takes all five guys on the court communicating, that’s for sure,” Jazz forward Jae Crowder said. “But you have to accept it. So, if they’re cross-matching and they’re running back you just got to demand the guy (to defend in transition) and stick with him for that possession and work it out. And that causes every guy on the court to know each guy’s tendencies and what he likes to do.
“So, you have to communicate on the court very well in the situation that we’re putting ourselves, which is in transition and working itself out in the half court and getting these guys in front of us and making it as tough as possible.”