Kings Roster Notes: (IN) Jonathan Quick (2.23 GAA, .917 SV%). Justin Williams joined the top line with Penner and Kopitar for the latter part of the game against Phoenix, and will remain there today. Willie MF Badass Mitchell is shrugging off 52 stiches like they're nothing. (OUT) Healthy scratches remain Drewiske, Harrold, and Westgarth. Injured: Scott Parse (hip).
Canucks Roster Notes: (IN) Roberto Luongo (2.23 GAA, .925 SV%). Via trade: Maxim Lapierre. (OUT) Sent back to the AHL: Cory Hodgson. Injured: Alex Edler (back), Lee Sweatt, Kevin Bieksa (foot), Andrew Alberts (wrist), Chris Higgins (thumb).
Vancouver is the top team in the West, yet has played only .500 hockey in its last ten games. These two facts have spawned a variety of headlines going into today's contest: "Canucks Fighting Complacency," "Canucks confident heading into road trip," and "Canucks Head Into Road Trip on Bad Form." They were just shut out 3-0 by the Predators and haven't scored at their usual clip lately. There's an undercurrent of angst.
As for me, I don't buy it. People tend to over-react to short stretches, but they're still the class of the West. Vancouver allows fewer goals than we do on average (2.29/game) and score boatloads more (3.18/game). Their (now-healthier) defense is as strong as their offense, and their power play and their penalty kill are 2nd in the league. Any way you slice it, that's impressive. This is a skilled, balanced club that's loaded up for a Cup run.
So do the Kings have a chance at this game? Heck yes. They may be the plucky underdogs, but they'd love to play spoiler for the third time in a row. Quick will have to turn in a magnificent bounce-back game and shower himself with Ginger Repellent, the defense will have to outwork them every shift, and the re-shuffled offense (and the new line in particular) will have to get in Luongo's face and make his life hell. It is up for grabs. But I expect it will take nothing less than a monumental effort.
What's even more important than playoff revenge? 2 freaking points, that's what. Let's go.