The Canucks look to close out their four-game road trip on a high note tonight when they take on the Los Angeles Kings for the second time this season.
Just when it seemed the Canucks were slowly starting to turn the corner, all of a sudden they're seemingly right back at square one. After starting out their four-game road trip with strong efforts in Minnesota and Dallas, despite a shootout loss in the latter, they turned in a dud last night against an Anaheim team that should have been ripe for the picking dropping a 4-0 decision in a game where they were clearly second best. The Canucks still have an opportunity to make this trip a successful one although it won't be easy against a Kings team that seems to be finding their stride lately.
Los Angeles comes into tonight's game having earned points in three straight, including scoring an impressive 3-2 come-from-behind overtime win on Saturday against the defending Cup champion Blackhawks. Suffice it to say, they're not the same team the Canucks blanked 3-0 back on October 13 at the Staples Center. The Canucks are expected to be without rookie Jake Virtanen tonight after he sustained an upper-body injury in the loss to the Ducks. Although Coach Desjardins did not officially confirm it, it's likely that Jacob Markstrom will get the nod in net tonight. Markstrom played the final 11 minutes of last night's game in relief of Ryan Miller stopping the lone shot he faced.
Puck drop at 7:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
When the Canucks visited Los Angeles back on October 13, they blanked a Kings team that clearly looked disjointed and disinterested. Since then, however, the Kings are starting to more resemble the team that won two Stanley Cups in three seasons from 2012 to 2014, as opposed to the 2015 edition that missed the post-season. That mid-October loss to the Canucks was immediately followed up by seven straight wins and although they haven't put together a lengthy win streak since that seven-game run, they've also avoided lengthy slumps as well only losing consecutive games on one occasion over the last 20 outings. During their recent two Cup victory seasons, the Kings were far from being an offensive juggernaut during the regular season finishing in the bottom half in the league in goals for before finding a way to step up their production come playoff time. With that said, they're probably not too concerned about the state of the offence even though they would like to see a bit more production especially from guys not named Jeff Carter or Tyler Toffoli. Newcomer Milan Lucic (points in three straight), along with Marian Gaborik (4 goals and five points in last seven games) and Anze Kopitar (six points in last five games) are slowly starting to turn things around but they have yet to replace the offence that they had received in seasons past from from the likes of now-former Kings Justin Williams and Jarrett Stoll.
In all their championship seasons, the one common denominator has been sensational goaltending supplied by Jonathan Quick. Quick has been as solid as they come since that rough start and the Kings, as a team, are back to their stifling defensive style that has become a hallmark of Darryl Sutter-coached clubs. In their last 20 outings, the Kings have held their opponents to two-or-fewer goals on 13 occasions. It helps that Quick hasn't exactly been overworked this season as Los Angeles averages just 28.4 shots against per game, tied for the sixth-fewest in the league entering play tonight. They've also only been out-shot in seven of 23 games played this season.
Keys to the Game
Don't take penalties. Every night lately it seems the Canucks are facing the league's best power play. The easiest solution would be to stay out of the sin bin like they did for the most part last time against the Kings taking just three minors. The second best solution? Don't bunch up in one corner and leave the point man wide open if they do have to kill a penalty.
Be ready right at puck drop. The Canucks have not been a fast starting team this year opening the scoring in just 10 of 25 games played so far. That, alone, has cost them a handful of games already including yesterday when they simply didn't look ready from the get go. They can't afford another sluggish start tonight.
Milan the bully. The last time these two teams met, Milan Lucic was hardly noticeable Lately, however, he's starting to more resemble the player that made the Bruins so big and bad back in the day. Given all his history against the Canucks, this is a game where he should shine.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this season without Jake Virtanen in the line-up (3-1-2).
Straight wins at the Staples Center for the Canucks dating back to last season.
Straight head-to-head wins for the Canucks against the Kings entering play tonight.
Straight games the Canucks have allowed a power play goal, tied for their longest streak this season.
Games in a row the Canucks have not had a defenceman score (Last – Edler vs Ottawa, Nov. 12).
Total shots on goal for the Kings in their Oct. 13 game against the Canucks, season-low for the Kings and by a Canucks' opponent.