The Canucks seem intent on making the Pacific Division race an interesting one. That's not actually a good thing. With a chance to move three points up on the Flames and four points clear of Kings on Thursday, Vancouver inexplicably dropped a 6-2 decision on home ice to woeful Columbus. What that means is the Canucks had better find a way to dig deep today and come up with a win in Los Angeles or else they could find themselves potentially sliding down to third place in the division standings behind the Flames, while tied with the Kings in points and games played by the end of the night.
Although there's no good excuse for Thursday's poor showing against the Blue Jackets, the Canucks were missing a couple of key forwards in Zack Kassian and Brad Richardson. If the Canucks are hoping for those two to provide a boost today, however, that won't happen as neither accompanied the team on the two-game trip. Eddie Lack is expected to get the start as he tries to bounce back from being pulled for the first time in a game this season.
Puck drop at 1 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
It wouldn't quite be accurate to suggest the Kings have stumbled since their 4-0 win over the Canucks nine days ago but they certainly would have liked to do better than a 1-1-1 record in the three games since then. What may be somewhat concerning for the Kings is the fact their offence has suddenly gone dry. They've scored just four combined goals over those three outings which could have easily translated into three straight regulation losses had it not been for some strong netminding from Jonathan Quick, who has stopped 69 of 74 shots (.932 save percentage) over those last three outings.
Quick hasn't just been strong in the season series against the Canucks, he's been outstanding allowing only three goals in three games albeit he hasn't exactly been tested much as Vancouver has only managed a total of 54 shots over the three games played to date. The Kings haven't needed Quick to be brilliant because they've basically run away with the season series so far winning all three games while out-scoring the Canucks by a combined 12-3. One thing the Kings seem to be able to generate in the season series is offence in waves. Their goals in all three games have come consecutively with the Canucks not offering any counterpunches. If that trend holds true today, it could mean another long afternoon for Vancouver especially if Los Angeles strikes first.
Keys to the Game
Have a short memory. The last thing the Canucks want to do is dwell on Thursday's disappointing loss, or the fact they've lost three in a row to the Kings. The next 60 minutes are a fresh start and they're perhaps the most crucial 60 minutes of their season. As the cliché goes, it's one shift at a time from here on in.
Eddie bounces back. There's no Canuck who will feel good after Thursday's disastrous performance but one individual who'll really be looking for a better outing is Eddie Lack, who was yanked for the first time all season. He'll be extra motivated which is good because the Canucks will need him at his very best.
Make it a special night. The Kings may have stumbled but their special teams has remained strong. Their power play has gone 6-for-20 over the last seven outings while their PK has only allowed one goal on 17 times shorthanded over that same stretch. Compared to Vancouver's struggling special teams, this is one area the Kings have a clear advantage.
By the Numbers
Shot differential in the season series after three games. The Kings have outshot the Canucks 96 to 54 overall.
Win percentage for the Canucks against California teams this season (5-6-2; 0-3-0 versus Los Angeles).
Straight losses at the Staples Center for the Canucks dating back to November 9, 2013.
Straight game without a power play goal for the Canucks, one shy of their longest such streak this season (Dec. 4 to 17).
Kings players to record a point in the season series. Only 7 Canucks have a point so far.
Consecutive playing time without a goal scored by the Canucks against the Kings.