The Canucks look for a second straight win to close out their short California road trip tonight when they take on a familiar foe in the Los Angeles Kings.
There may have been some warm, fuzzy feelings last night when the Canucks and Ducks got together with Anaheim boasting three popular former players who used to call Vancouver home. That won't be the case tonight, however, when the Canucks meet the Kings – a team they have developed quite a healthy rivalry against over the past few seasons thanks to some playoff meetings. While the two teams did not meet this past spring in the post-season, the Canucks played a key role in making sure there would be no playoff hockey in Hollywood with a couple of huge head-to-head victories down the stretch – something the Kings have surely not forgotten.
The Canucks, who squeaked out a 2-1 shootout win last night in Anaheim thanks in large part to the heroics of Ryan Miller in net, would love nothing more than to return home with four out of a possible four points on this road swing and hand the Kings their third straight loss to begin the season. After last night's performance, and considering the Canucks have two days off after tonight before they host the Blues on Friday, don't be surprised to see Ryan Miller get the call again between the pipes.
Puck drop at 7:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
Had it not been for a couple of high-profile off-ice incidents that resulted in the departures of a pair of prominent players – namely Slava Voynov and Mike Richards – you might be tempted to describe the off-season as relatively quiet in Hollywood. The Kings made one prominent move in the summer acquiring hulking forward Milan Lucic from the Bruins in a package that saw back-up netminder Martin Jones go the other way. In Lucic, a pending unrestricted free agent, the Kings are hoping they landed not only an intimidating physical presence but someone who can also make an impact on the scoresheet. A three-time 20-goal scorer, Lucic is looking to bounce back from a subpar campaign that saw him net just 44 points last season in Boston – his lowest total since 2009.10.
Another move the Kings made to help bolster their offence, which finished 18th in the league last season averaging 2.66 goals per game, is bringing in former Canuck Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff's offensive production has tanked since departing from Vancouver following the 2011 Stanley Cup run although a big reason for that is due to injuries. He's still considered one of the best puck-moving blue-liners in the league and, if he manages to perform up to his potential, could give the Kings a daunting top-four of offensively gifted defencemen to go with Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Drew Doughty. Barring those two major additions, however, the Kings are virtually the same team that captured the Stanley Cup two springs ago but also the same squad that missed the playoffs a year ago. General Manager Dean Lombardi is betting on this year's team to be the one that conquered all challengers in the NHL two seasons ago, rather than the one that went quietly into the night last season.
Keys to the Game
The bottom-six chip in. Goals were hard to come by for the Canucks against the Kings last season as they managed just eight over the five-game series. Only one of those goals came from a player in their bottom-six at the time – Bo Horvat. The depth forwards will be counted on to have a bigger impact than they did in 2014.15.
Beware of Looch. Ex-Vancouver Giant Milan Lucic has yet to record a point as a King and has just one shot in two games played, but he's been noticeable. He has nine hits and was assessed a match penalty in his Los Angeles debut. The Canucks will need to keep their heads up when No. 17 is out there.
Quick is Quick. You're given the benefit of the doubt when you're a two-time Stanley Cup champion but even Quick knows nine goals against on 54 shots faced in his first two starts of the season is not good enough. He needs to revert back to the goalie that posted a 3-1-1 record vs. Vancouver last season with a 1.18 GAA and .955 save percentage.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks last season when playing on zero days rest (4-6-2).
Wins in a row for the Canucks over the Kings to close out last year's season series.
Year in a row the Kings have lost consecutive games to start their season.
Times the Canucks will visit the Staples Center this season.
Points each for Kings forwards Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli to co-share the lead in the 2014.15 season series.
Straight starts for Jonathan Quick against the Canucks dating back to January 4, 2014.