It may be too little too late to salvage this season but you can bet that getting over the hurdle that is the elusive three-game win streak would mean a lot to the players in the Canucks' locker room. Doing so against a Stanley Cup-contending like the Kings, not to mention doing so with an injury-depleted line-up, would make the accomplishment all the sweeter. The Canucks have put themselves in this position after sweeping their two-game California road trip, capped off with an unlikely 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Ducks on Friday.
Based on practice lines yesterday it appears the Canucks will welcome Jake Virtanen and Derek Dorsett back into the line-up tonight, the former returning after serving a two-game suspension and the latter potentially coming back following a four-game injury absence. Their respective returns, however, will likely come at the expense of Chris Higgins and Linden Vey, both of whom were injured in the victory over the Ducks. Coach Desjardins did hint, however, that one of Higgins, Vey or Sven Baertschi could possibly be healthy enough to play tonight.
Puck drop at 7 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
Keys to the Game
Push back. No team mixes skill and physicality quite like the Kings but the Canucks, especially since Tryamkin's arrival, have been throwing their weight around quite a bit. Mix in the return of Virtanen and the Canucks might actually be able to intimidate the Kings in a way that Los Angeles is used to doing to their opponents.
Contain Anze. In their first meeting against the Kings, the Canucks held Kopitar off the scoresheet and won that game convincingly. Since then, the Slovenian sniper has eight points (2-6-8) to lead all players in the season series and the Canucks have lost three in a row. Coincidence?
Learn from their Cali brethren. The Kings have had the benefit of sitting back and watching their fellow California teams fall over the last few days to a banged-up Canucks team. There should be no excuse for them to take this game lightly no matter how much they may think this game will be a cakewalk.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Regulation loss for the Kings in their last six visits to Rogers Arena (4-1-1).
Win needed by the Kings to set a new franchise record for most wins in a singles season (currently at 46).
Straight games with a goal for Bo Horvat. His career-high streak is three games (Jan. 4-9, 2016).
Time the Canucks have a chance to win three in a row this season. They have yet to win 3 straight this season.
Coach to 1,200 career NHL games is Kings' bench boss Darryl Sutter, who reaches the milestone tonight.
Wins for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick this season, tied for his personal career-high and tied for the Kings franchise record (held by him).
- With top spot in the division still on the line, the Kings could not have picked worst time to get hit a rut. With their 3-2 loss the Stars on Saturday, the Kings are just 2-5-0 in their last seven outings. Those two wins haven't exactly come against intimidating opponents – a 6-4 win over the Oilers, and a 3-0 win over the Flames.
- The Kings have been one of the most dominant defensive teams this season allowing just an average of 2.32 goals against per game, but their play around their own net has been a little suspect of late. Over the last seven games, Los Angeles has allowed a combined 23 goals against and has allowed three-or-more goals in five of those seven outings.
- Jonathan Quick would be the first to admit that he needs to get his game back on track. Quick has been in net for all-but-one period over the last seven games. The Kings seem largely uninterested in giving many more starts to back-up Jhonas Enroth despite Enroth's sparkling statistics this season. Quick has been better over his last two starts stopping 57 of 60 combined shots. The Kings begin their last back-to-back set tonight so it's possible they could give Enroth the start tonight unless they choose to save for him for tomorrow in Calgary.
- While the defence has had its fair share of struggles lately, the offence hasn't exactly picked up the slack either. The Kings have scored just 17 goals over their last seven outings, with nine of those coming in those two aforementioned victories over the Oilers and Flames. Take those out and they've combined for just eight tallies over the other five games while being held to two-or-fewer goals in each of those outings.
- One player that the Kings can't complain about when it comes to offensive production is Jeff Carter, who has five goals and eight points in his last six outings. Other players who have still put up a multitude of points despite Los Angeles' recent struggles include Tyler Toffoli (3-4-7 in last 7 games) and Milan Lucic (5 assists in last 4 games). Not surprisingly, those three players all happen to be skating on the same line right now.
- If their power play can get going again, it would definitely help with the stagnant offence. It's been heating up recently with three goals over their last five games (3-for-12) after going a combined 0-for-18 in the seven games prior. The power play has scored in three of four games of the season series (their three victories) going a combined 3-for-14.