The Vancouver Canucks are in Los Angeles for a matchup against the Kings tonight. The teams last faceed off in March 2008 when the Kings fell to the Canucks 2-1 in overtime.
Coming off a 1-0 loss at home to the Bruins on Tuesday, that ended their unbeaten home-ice record, the Canucks are eagar to improve their 4-5-0 record with a win against the equally-struggling L.A. Kings (3-4-1) at the Staples Centre tonight.
"They are playing a more all-around game right now," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "They are playing hard at both ends of the ring. They seem to have pretty good balance right now."
The team had an optional skate this morning in L.A. that brought out almost the entire roster. Daniel and Henrik Sedin
and Mattias Ohlund sat out to rest for the game.GENERATING OFFENCE
The team will be looking to capitalize on the kind of scoring chances they generated against Boston on Tuesday. They were held scoreless against the Bruins, but tallied 6 goals against Edmonton last Saturday.
Vigneault addressed Tuesday’s scoring drought by mixing his lines in preparation for tonight’s game.Mason Raymond
will be given a chance to play on the top line alongside the Sedins in the place of Steve Bernier who will play with Taylor Pyatt and Kyle Wellwood.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Raymond. "It's going to be fun. I'm just going to play my game. You learn from what [the Sedins] do but, at the end of the day, I have to stick with what I do best. They see the ice well and they can make some good passes. You have to be able to adapt to anything."
The Sedins who have been held to minimal points in the past seven games are frustrated with their lack of scoring at even strength and on the power play despite feeling confident and healthy.
"We have been losing games because of that so, of course, it's frustrating," said Daniel. "But you have to analyze the process and try to fix it. I think we've been moving the puck pretty well on the power play but we haven't been able to hit the net with our chances. If we can do that, we'll be fine."
Vigneault also adjusted the power plays, putting Wellwood on the twins' unit instead of Jason Krog and Raymond with Ryan Kesler
and Bernier on the other. Raymond, who had been playing the point, practiced as a forward. Alex Edler took Raymond's point position alongside Kevin Bieksa
on the top unit. Sami Salo
and Mattias Ohlund fill out the second unit.
Krog will be a healthy scratch tonight and energy forward Mike Brown will step into the lineup. Brown has played in two games and had as many fights this season and is prepared to make his presence known.
"Every time I'm in a game I know what my job is," said Brown. "I'll definitely play my role and run around and try to create some havoc out there. I know I have to make those hits and get their defenceman on their toes and get them worried. I'll definitely be doing that."D-MEN STEPPING UP
In an effort to generate more offensive pressure, the Canucks are continuing to encourage their blueliners to join the rush and cause confusion in the offensive zone.
"Off the rush, we're doing a good job of getting involved and jumping in," said Vigneault. "It's after that where we need them to get better -- getting their shots through from the point.
"It's doing what Sami Salo
did that one time [Tuesday] where he passed it down low, sprinted and took that one shot and had a great scoring chance. Our guys are making the right decisions. It's after that. Mattias Ohlund has always been a steady shooter who finds the net. They're sailing everywhere right now and I don't know why."
In the 1-0 loss to Boston the Canucks defencemen contributed six of the team’s 31 shots, but also had seven shots sail wide. Veteran d-man Sami Salo
who has one of the hardest shots in the league has registered a dozen shots in seven games, but has yet to score.
"I was trying to force it [on Tuesday] a bit too much and missed a couple of times at the net because I was trying to go high," said Salo. "The key is to try do a little deception and fake shots and get the pucks off quickly. But it's easier to block a wrister than a shot that's coming harder. You just have to pick your moments with which shot you're going to take."
Sophomore defenceman Edler will be returning to the Canuck power play. He was demoted a few games ago, but was back alongside Bieksa at practice Wednesday.
"It feels good because it's something I want to play," said Edler. "Our power play was struggling at the beginning of the season but I think we're starting to know our positions and how we should play it more. Hopefully it gets going here."