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At the Rink: Canucks at Kings

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Right wing Jake Virtanen is expected to make his NHL debut when the Vancouver Canucks play the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday at Staples Center.

The Canucks made Virtanen, 19, the sixth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.

"It's pretty exciting to finally get my first game in here and a pretty cool place to get it," Virtanen said in video posted by the Canucks website. "My family is going to be here for it, so it's going to be pretty exciting to see them out here supporting me. I'm looking forward to just getting out there and getting started."

It's not clear where Virtanen will play. Vancouver is playing the second of back-to-back games after it defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in a shootout Monday.

Canucks right wing Brandon Sutter will play against his uncle, Kings coach Darryl Sutter.

"I know he's a good player," Darryl Sutter said. "He's in our division. I'm not too worried about what his last name is. We can talk about that in five years or 10 years. Our key is to try and outplay him."

Asked about Brandon Sutter handling the intense media scrutiny in Canada, Darryl Sutter said it's in his DNA.

"We've been doing that for 45 years," he said. "We should be fortunate we've still got some of them in the game. Those kids, it's like water off their back."

Darryl Sutter moved left wing Milan Lucic to the second line with center Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli in recent practices. The Kings did not have a morning skate because of a power outage at their practice facility and most players were not at the rink.

Sutter instead held court with reporters beside mushy ice and said it's a big adjustment for Lucic to go from playing with a right-handed center like David Krejci of the Boston Bruins to left-handed center Anze Kopitar.

When Lucic arrived from Boston in a trade, the Kings moved Marian Gaborik to right wing to accommodate a Lucic-Kopitar-Gaborik line.

"It looks like a really good fit," Sutter said. "Well, coaches pencil everything out over and over and over. Until you see it, you don't know if it works. [Gaborik] hasn't played a lot of right wing … it's a big adjustment for [Gaborik] going from left to right. It's like going from third base to second base. It's such a different game."

Lucic is minus-2 with one shot on goal and nine hits in two games. Another new addition, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, is minus-3, and Sutter said it's an adjustment for Ehrhoff as well.

"I think he's got to get up to the pace of the game," he said. "I think that's going to be the key. I think his skill set and his skating are still clearly at a high level, but the pace of the game has changed in the last two or three years too. You have to be able to push that into your own game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Brandon Sutter

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata

Alexandre Burrows - Jared McCann - Jannik Hansen/Jake Virtanen

Brandon Prust - Adam Cracknell - Derek Dorsett

Dan Hamhuis - Matt Bartkowski

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton - Luca Sbisa

Ryan Miller

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Yannick Weber

Injured: Chris Higgins (lower body), Jacob Markstrom (lower body)


Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Milan Lucic - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Andy Andreoff - Jordan Nolan

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Christian Ehrhoff

Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Derek Forbort, Jordan Weal

Injured: Dwight King (foot)

Status report: It was not known if the Canucks would start Miller in the second of a back-to-back … Quick is expected to start for the Kings. He allowed four goals on the first 10 shots to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Who's hot: Hansen has a goal and an assist in his past two games. Hutton also has a two-game point streak.

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