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Preview, Game Day #24: Vancouver Canucks @ Los Angeles Kings

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A bad hockey team comes to the Staples Center.

get ready to hear a lot about this dude tonight
get ready to hear a lot about this dude tonight
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks @ Los Angeles Kings

Time: 7:30 Pacific

TV: Fox Sports West, Sportsnet Pacific

Enemy Reading: Nucks Misconduct

Los Angeles Kings

Pearson-Kopitar-Gaborik
Lucic-Carter-Toffoli
Brown-Shore-Lewis
Clifford-Andreoff-Nolan

McNabb-Doughty
Muzzin-Martinez
Ehrhoff-McBain

Quick
(Enroth)

Scratched: Forbort, Weal Injured: King, Greene

Vancouver Canucks

Sedin-Sedin-Hansen
Baertschi-Horvat-Burrows
Pedan-McCann-Vrbata
Prust-Cracknell-Dorsett

Edler-Tanev
Hamhuis-Weber
Sbisa-Bartkowski

Markstrom
(Miller)

Scratched: Biega Injured: Higgins, Virtanen, Hutton, Sutter

Stats & Such
(Fancy stats courtesy War on Ice)

Team Canucks Kings
Record 9-9-7 14-8-1
Points 25 29
Division Rank 4th 1st
Streak Lost 1
Won 1
Goals For/Game 2.76 2.52
Goals Against/Game 2.76
2.17
ES Goal % 50.6
48.4
ES Shot %
50.9
54.0
ES PDO 99.9
98.7
ES Corsi % 49.4
56.6
ES Fenwick % 51.0
55.9
ES Scoring Chance % 46.1
55.2
ES High-Danger SC % 46.7
54.6
Power Play % (Rank) 19.8 (14th)
19.1 (17th)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 77.2 (24th)
83.9 (8th)
Starting Goalie (tonight) Markstrom Quick
Goalie Record 1-1-1
11-7-1
Save % .904 .917
ES Save % .940
.925

Notes:

  • Welcome to the only preview you'll see me write this week. After getting two days off following their win over Chicago on Saturday, the Kings will get another three off after tonight's game, not playing again until a matinee against the Penguins this coming Saturday (and uh, someone may write a preview on Saturday but it sure won't be me). But anyway, the point is it's a pretty light week for the Kings. Two points tonight is pretty much a necessity if they want any real shot at staying 1st in the Pacific in the short-term; the Sharks play three games this week and remain just 1 point back.
  • Luckily for the Kings, their opponent tonight is the Canucks, who are almost the literal textbook definition of mediocrity. Their record is ".500" (even though they've actually lost 16 of their 25 games; god bless that loser point!!!), their Corsi is very middling (and almost exactly the same as their mark for the full season last year, 49.5%), and they are getting almost exactly average luck with a 99.9 PDO at evens. The Canucks are just a sort of vaguely bad hockey team that's been simultaneously lucky to get so many games beyond 60 minutes and unlucky to lose most of those; they're 1-1 in shootouts, but a staggeringly bad 0-6 in games decided in overtime. The Kings, as you might recall, are 3-0 in games decided in the 3-on-3 OT. So I think we all know how this one ends, right?
  • The Kings lines are current as of their practice yesterday. Andreoff back down to the 4th line is a good thing; not as good as taking him out of the lineup entirely, of course, but still good. Still, with the Kings talking about needing a defenseman for about the five thousandth year in a row, it's pretty clear looking at that lineup that what they actually need is a 3rd line forward who can score every now and then. As much as I like Nick Shore and as good as his Corsi numbers are (he's a plus 9.5% Corsi rel! on the Kings!!!), he's also got all of two goals and no assists in 23 games. His linemates are Dustin Brown (2 goals, 5 assists) and Trevor Lewis (2 goals, 2 assists). Obviously that 4th line isn't chipping in either (Andreoff has 1 goal and 0 assists, Clifford 0 goals and 3 assists, Nolan 0 goals and 2 assists), so you're basically forcing your top 6 to get it done every night. Many nights they can because they're a very, very good top six, but a winger who could chip in even 12-15 goals over the course of the year would be of some assistance (certainly of greater assistance than a "shutdown defenseman"). Right now the leading goal scorers in the bottom six are on pace for, like, less than 8. And as Nick covered ably in his article, if the Kings have one thing that is definitely not their issue it's their defense.
  • Meanwhile, the Canucks lines are sort of up in the air after the 4-0 thrashing they took at the hands of our southern California rivals last night. The game was actually a pounding in more ways than one, as the Ducks also put a physical hurting on several Canucks. Rookie forward Jake Virtanen left the game and did not return, and though his injury was called "not serious" by coach Willie Desjardins, he also added that he doesn't expect Virtanen in the lineup against LA. In addition, defenseman Chris Tanev had to leave the game midway through the 1st (but returned in the 2nd) and forward Chris Higgins looked pretty out of it after taking a hard check from Nick Richtie late in the 2nd but remained in the game (quiet room? what quiet room?). So yeah, not a banner night for the Canucks really in any stretch of the imagination.
  • While the Kings may be carried by their top two lines offensively, that's still better than the Canucks, who survive only thanks to the grace of the apparently ageless Sedin twins of late. In nine games prior to yesterday, the Sedins had a combined 12 goals and 30 points. Behind them is a guy who mostly plays on their line (Jannik Hansen and his four goals). There's a few other guys sort of contributing, but really as go the Sedins so go the Canucks.
  • Expect Jacob Markstrom in net tonight. Starter Ryan Miller was yanked last night after allowing 4 goals on 29 shots, but Markstrom wasn't exactly tired out in his 11 minutes of play, facing all of one shot. He should still get the nod. His sv% split as you can see above is funny (and actually, not that different from Miller's. as both are apparently playing behind an atrocious Canucks PK), but he's played very few minutes so far so who really knows what to make of him just yet. Of course, the fact that he's appeared in all of 4 games hasn't stopped the Vancouver media from pressing the GOALIE CONTROVERSY panic button, because of course it hasn't.
  • I have no idea what the Canucks lines will actually look like tonight, given all the injuries and questionable players. Tanev was on the ice for the morning skate so he should play, though there were enough doubts that they called up another defenseman just in case, but both Virtanen & Higgins were missing and thus probably won't. Anyway, the above is from Left Wing Lock and is as good a guess as any, but no one seems to have a firm idea behind "probably Markstrom in net and I guess the Sedins or something".
  • No Mega Man today. We play the Canucks a few more times, we'll get 'em on the next go around. Sorry Sheng.
  • PREDICTION: Kings lose 3-2 in overtime. Duh.