Only three points separate the Canucks and Kings in the standings and Thursday’s game will be the third match-up of the year and first of three between the rivals to close out the season.
“We have to find a way to win some of those games, if we don’t, our playoff chances aren’t that good,” said coach Willie Desjardins, who praised the Kings.
“They have the ability to play hard when it’s time to play hard and just elevate their game. They seem to do that, when it’s time to win they pick up their game and play hard. That’s where they’re at now.”
The Kings are coming off a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night, having arrived in Vancouver shortly after the Canucks finished practice today.
If the 2014-15 NHL playoffs were to begin today, the Canucks would face the Kings in the first round, but there’s plenty of hockey to be played and coach Desjardins isn’t scouting LA for the post-season yet.
“I’d just like to make the playoffs and whoever we play, it’d just be great to make it,” he said. RONALDS RETURNS
With the exception of Ryan Miller, every member of the Canucks practiced Wednesday, for the first time in a long time.
The Canucks were split into blue and green jerseys, while injured or scratched players sported grey, including Chris Higgins, Brad Richardson and Brandon McMillan.
Does this mean Ronalds Kenins is back in for the Canucks after sitting out a pair of games?
Yes indeed. Kenins will be reunited with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen on a line Vancouver has looked to for energy and offence this season.
Desjardins said Kenins is learning as he goes and has to continue to play an up-tempo game to remain in the line-up.
“I think he has to find a way to play like he did when he first came in,” said coach, adding that he hasn’t been disappointed with Kenins, “he just needs to get back to how he plays and bring that energy.
“We’re hoping he’ll come in against LA and play hard.”
Here's what Kenins had to say about being back in the line-up: 800 FOR HAMMER
When Dan Hamhuis steps onto the ice Thursday night, he’ll do so for the 800th time in his NHL career.
The 32-year-old Canucks defenceman will play his 800th NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings and it seems like just yesterday the BC-native was lacing up his skates for his NHL debut.
“It goes by quick to be at 800 games, that’s for sure,” he laughed post-practice Wednesday, “I’m sure my teammates won’t let me forget tomorrow.”
Of those 800 games, 317 will have been played with Canucks, the remainder as a member of the Nashville Predators, who drafted him 12th overall in 2001.
“I’ve been fortunate to have pretty good health throughout my career and I’m really proud of that number.”
To make No. 800 a memorable game, Hamhuis is tasked with holding the Kings offence at bay; the veteran is also scoreless this season, so there’s never been a better time for his first goal of the year.
Hamhuis has three goals and seven assists in 39 career games against LA.