Game 78: Canucks vs. Kings (4.5.14)
You can't help but think these days that there may be a supernatural force intent on keeping the Canucks in the playoff race until the bitter end. Losses by both the Stars and Coyotes earlier this week means tonight's game – mathematically, anyways – still has some meaning in it. If the slim playoff hope angle isn't enough to fire up the Canucks, how about the idea of playing for pride against a Kings team that has beaten the Canucks in all four head-to-head meetings so far this season? The closest Vancouver has come to knocking off Los Angeles this season came in their only other clash at Rogers Arena back on November 25 – a 3-2 overtime win by the Kings.
The Kings come into tonight's game knowing that they are set as the third-place team in the Pacific Division with no possibility of moving up or down in the standings. Their objective now is to fine tune their game heading into the playoffs. They come into tonight's tilt having lost two of their last three games, including falling 2-1 to a potential first-round opponent in the Sharks on Thursday. Vancouver is expected to get team captain Henrik Sedin back in their lineup tonight as they look to snap their three-game winless skid. Henrik has been out since March 23 when he suffered a lower-body injury against the Sabres.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT - Live on CBC, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Break the brooms. It's bad enough the Canucks likely won't be a participant in this year's playoffs, but imagine having to stew the entire off-season knowing they got beat five times in one season by one of their supposed top rivals, the Kings. Winning one game to avoid that embarrassment seems as good a motivating factor as any.
Play up-tempo GM Mike Gillis has gone on record this week saying he wants his team to get back to playing that up-tempo, offense-first style. What better way to start than tonight?
End Vancouver's misery. The Canucks could be in a position where they may be facing a true do-or-die in tonight's contest and how much would the Kings love it if they were the team to put the final dagger into their playoff hopes.
By the Numbers
Goal-differential in the season series for the Canucks (4 goals for; 12 goals against).
Win percentage for the Canucks without Henrik Sedin in the lineup (3-8-1). He is expected back tonight.
Straight games the Canucks have scored two-or-fewer goals. Vancouver is 12-28-7 this season when scoring two-or-fewer goals.
Wins for Jonathan Quick in the season series against the Canucks. He has allowed just two goals on 82 total shots (.976 save percentage).
All-time wins for the Canucks in franchise history against the Kings.
Percent penalty kill success rate for the Canucks in the season series (16-for-16).