The Canucks welcome the Los Angeles Kings to Rogers Arena Thursday as they play the second of a five-game homestand; games against the rival Kings are always exciting, but there’s much more on the line this time around.
Vancouver sits second in the Pacific Division with 80 points, while Los Angeles is fourth at 77 points. If the playoffs were to start today, the Canucks would be in and the Kings would be out.
That being said, both teams have 16 games remaining, including three head-to-head battles.
“They’re a good team and it makes you want to beat them, especially since they’ve had so much success lately,” said Nick Bonino. “We’ve definitely seen a lot of these guys, we know they’re a good team and I’d like nothing more than to beat them.”
The Canucks are riding a two-game winning streak having scored three straight to beat San Jose last Saturday before riding stellar play from Eddie Lack and a late goal from Zack Kassian to a 2-1 win over Anaheim Monday.
The schedule saved the best for last as the Canucks round out the California three.
“We’ve played the three California teams all in a row now and we’ve had some pretty good success in the first two,” said Bonino. “The intensity has been there and for us that’s big, if we can get that going again tonight, it should help us.
“They’ve got a 2-0 lead and we’d like to win the season series, so that obviously starts tonight.”
Vancouver has been outshot 76-35 in two losses to Los Angeles this year, including a rough 3-2 loss to open 2015 where the Kings scored twice in the final 2:07 to steal the win.
Ryan Miller was in net for both those games; Thursday night it’ll be Lack, who is 1-1-0 in two career starts against the Kings.
Regardless of who is between the pipes, the Canucks know they can’t continue to rely on their goaltending the way they have of late.
“We gave up a few too many shots last game, we need to keep that down and we need more shots at their net for sure, create some more chances, that’ll be one of our main things for tonight,” said Daniel Sedin, who believes the Canucks are all on the same page right now.
“The whole team has bought in to the way we have to play to be successful and that’s a good sign. When we play like that, we can play against anyone in this league and that’s a good feeling.”
Whether the Canucks outshoot the opposition or are outshot by their opponent doesn’t make that much of a difference statistically. Vancouver is 19-12-1 (.594 win %) when outshooting and 19-12-3 (.559 win %) when they’re outshot.
Potato, potato – you know what I mean.