The Kings have despised the Canucks for years, that much is not news. The difference this time the Canucks had nothing to do but think about this day for months, because they stopped playing meaningful hockey in April.
The Kings are good enough to be hated! I can get used to this.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks, Staples Center
Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West, NHL Center Ice (still free!), TSN
Enemy reading: Nucks Misconduct
Canucks (projected) lineup:
Scratches: Ebbett, Alberts, Barker
Injured: Kesler (shoulder, wrist), Booth (groin pull while goat hunting?)
Kings (projected) lineup:
Scratches: Richardson, Bodnarchuk, Penner
Injured: Greene (back), Mitchell (knee)
- Both teams got off to rough starts, causing nearly everyone in the media to overreact. Both teams are good enough to win their divisions, both are suffering from key losses, and both are still putting it all together. Fun.
- Gagne played well in Phoenix, and contributed to Carter's goal when a makeshift line was sent out after a penalty kill, but he remains on the fourth line. Penner is still out. Clifford's heroics on the second line mean Sutter is sticking with that promotion.
- Muzzin and Drewiske have done well so far in extremely sheltered, limited minutes. Sutter is going to have to trust them with a bit more unless he wants Scuderi to perish from exhaustion. Four defensemen can't handle every d-zone faceoff.
- Something that shouldn't go unnoticed in the Kings' slow start: Quick has improved steadily in every game. So has Kopitar. The game against Phoenix marked the third full week since his injury.
- The power play is somehow getting worse as time goes on. Not getting off enough shots is a pattern stretching back to last season; not having even one scoring chance on a 5v3 is ridiculous. Anxiety seems to radiate off of them. Can anything change tonight?
- Will Carter and Clifford be able to lift Richards up? They're going to need all the depth they have to try to exploit the Canucks' weakened second line.
The raw emotion should make this fun to watch, but I hope the Kings come out as steely assassins. The way to get ahead is to avoid spending too much time on the PK.
Think about winning. Think about Rob Scuderi.