Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Kings (3.23.13)

Saturday, 23.03.2013 / 11:00 AM / Features
By Daniel Fung
Team Record: 15-9-6
Last Game: 2-1 W at Phoenix (MAR.21.13)

Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 5-2 W (MAR.02.13)
Team Record: 17-11-2
Last Game: 0-2 L vs Dallas (MAR.21.13)

Season Series: 1-1-0
Last Meeting: 2-5 L (MAR.02.13)

Storylines

The Set-Up

The banged-up Vancouver Canucks (15-9-6), minus suspended defenseman Alex Edler, will continue their three-game road trip this afternoon when they invade the Staples Center to battle the Los Angeles Kings (17-11-2) for the third and final time this season.

What You Need to Know
  • The Canucks are looking to string together three straight wins for the first time since they won six in a row from January 30 to February 12.
  • The Canucks began their three-game road trip exactly the way the wanted on Thursday by eking out a 2-1 win in Phoenix despite playing with a depleted lineup. Their road trip wraps up tomorrow night in Colorado.
  • The Canucks were forced to dress seven defensemen on Thursday after F Chris Higgins joined the list of injured Canuck forwards when he tweaked his back at the morning skate. Higgins, however, expects to be back this afternoon. D Chris Tanev, who scored his second career goal on Thursday against the Coyotes, is reportedly nursing a sore right foot but should be good to go as well.
  • The Canucks won't have D Alex Edler in their lineup this afternoon, or for tomorrow night's road trip finale in Denver. He was suspended two games by the NHL for his hit on Coyotes' netminder Mike Smith in the second period of Thursday's win. The last time Edler missed a game was April 5, 2011 in Edmonton. That game was the end of a streak of 31 straight games he sat out due to back surgery.
  • The Kings are closing out a five-game home stand this afternoon. They had started the home stand winning the first three games before being shut out 2-0 by the Stars on Thursday.
  • Today's game marks the third and final regular season meeting between the Canucks and Kings this season. The teams each have one win after the first two meetings although the Canucks have the edge in points with their loss coming in a shootout. Vancouver won 5-2 the last time these teams met back on March 2 at Rogers Arena. Five different Canucks had goals that night and G Cory Schneider made 28 saves on 30 shots in the victory.
  • Speaking of Schneider, given his recent run lately, he will be the likely starter for this afternoon's game. His win against the Kings on March 2 was his first career regular season start versus Los Angeles.
  • Kings G Jonathan Quick is expected to start this afternoon against the Canucks. He has started the previous two meetings between the teams this season compiling a 1-1-0 record while allowing six goals on a combined 46 shots faced.
  • Today's game could be a potential first-round playoff series preview with the Kings and Canucks entering play today sitting in fourth and fifth in the Western Conference standings, respectively. With a win and some help on the out-of-town scoreboard, the Canucks could end this day back on top of the Northwest Division and in third place in the Conference standings.
  • According to statisticians at the Jobing.com Arena, the Canucks were hit 50 times by the Coyotes on Thursday which is a season-high hit total by a Vancouver opponent. The previous high by a Canucks opponent was 35 set by the LA Kings back on January 28.
Follow the Action

Today's game faces off at 1 pm PT and can be seen on Sportsnet Pacific. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.

Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.

Keys to the Game


The Canucks Win If...

  • They have a repeat of March 2. The Canucks might have had their best performance of the season in their last meeting against the Kings with all the hype surrounding the visit of the Stanley Cup champion LA Kings to Rogers Arena. The scene might be different for today's rematch but the Canucks should still be fired up and eager to knock those smug defending champions down a peg.
  • They use their missing troops as a rallying cry. Thursday night's outing in Phoenix might have been the Canucks' gutsiest effort of the season considering they went into that game with a heavily-depleted lineup and still managed to grind out a third period winner. They'll need to come out with an even gutsier effort tonight seeing as how they'll not only be going up against the Cup champs with a battered-and-bruised lineup but also without top defenseman Alex Edler who will sit out today’s game after being suspended by the NHL.
  • They stay out of the box. The best way to contain one of the league's best power play units would be to not let them on the ice. The Canucks have handed the Kings four power play opportunities in each of their first two meetings this season and Los Angeles has responded with two power play goals. The Kings, despite going 0-for-3 with the man-advantage on Thursday, have still scored eight PPGs on 25 power play opportunities (32 percent efficiency) over their last eight outings.


The Kings Win If...

  • They come out angry and looking for revenge. The Kings should be a motivated bunch tonight considering they're coming off a 2-0 loss to the Stars on Thursday in a game they probably deserved to win after out-shooting Dallas 40-21. They should be even more fired up with the memory of March 2 fresh in their minds after they were handed a lopsided loss by the Canucks that night in a 5-2 defeat at Rogers Arena.
  • They set the physical tone. Tonight's game features a clash between one of the top hitting teams in the league in the Kings against one of the teams with the fewest hits in the Canucks. It's no surprise the Kings will want to bang the Canucks around as much as they can, but even more so knowing how many missing players they have including a couple of their top hitters in Kassian and Edler. If the Kings get physical early, it might just discourage the Canucks from taking the puck into prime scoring areas.
  • Kopitar leads the way offensively. The Kings' top forward may lead his team in points in the season series with two but Los Angeles is certainly going to need more from him than just a couple of assists. Kopitar has five career goals in 25 games against the Canucks but hasn't scored in four straight regular season outings versus Vancouver. Los Angeles is 99-27-13 all-time when Kopitar scores a goal.

Ones to Watch

CAM BARKER

When the Canucks signed Cam Barker just prior to the start of this year's shortened season, few expected him to have a significant role on a team that came into the campaign with their top-six defensemen set. With the Canucks suddenly running into a myriad of injuries, not to mention suspensions, it looks like he might get a chance to play a bigger part than he anticipated.

If there's one thing Barker has shown in limited action this season, it's that he's still got a nose for the net. He has notched two assists in five games played this season while recording at least two shots in each outing (averaging 2.4 shots per game). He might get a greater chance to play an offensive role with Alex Edler out of the lineup tonight, which includes potentially seeing even more time on the man-advantage than he normally is accustomed to.

The 26-year-old blue-liner did not suit up in either head-to-head meeting against the Kings earlier this season. He has two assists in 14 career games versus Los Angeles. Barker is four points shy of recording 100 career points in his career.

DREW DOUGHTY

Perhaps instead of spending his time complaining about how much other teams whine, Drew Doughty should focus his attention on doing what he does best which is scoring goals. But, then again, he hasn't really been that good at that either this season.

The 23-year-old, who in his sophomore campaign three years ago put up a career-high 16 goals and 59 points and was widely heralded as the best up-and-coming defenseman in the league, has seen his point production drop consistently the past two seasons albeit he did have a strong run during the Stanley Cup run for the Kings last year. So far this season, he has managed just one goal and 12 points putting him third on the team in points among blue-liners behind Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin despite leading the team in ice-time.

Doughty comes into tonight's contest with just two points (1-1-2) in his last nine outings. He's been held point-less in both meetings against the Canucks this season while recording a combined a minus-three rating. In 18 career regular season games versus Vancouver, Doughty has amassed one goal and six points.

Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at dfung_sports@hotmail.com.