Game Time: 7:30 PM, FS-W
I think maybe for next season, I need to try to fix things from the inside.
That’s right, next season, maybe I should go find a way to work for the NHL in their scheduling department.
What’s that? No more Saturday afternoon matinee games for the Kings? Oh, darn. What a shame. After the past two Saturdays, would anyone complain? Maybe the basketball team that had the evening game on the books, but certainly not Kings fans.
The Kings get a chance to atone for Saturday’s embarrassment tonight as the Vancouver Canucks come to town. The Canucks have lost eight of their last ten and were shut out just last night by Darcy Kuemper and the Arizona Coyotes in what was probably one of the less thrilling games of hockey I’ve seen lately. (Please don’t ask me why I was voluntarily watching a Canucks/Coyotes game.) Their only wins have come against the Coyotes, earlier in March, and a wild game against the Islanders, where the Canucks stormed back to take the lead after a 2-0 start, only to allow a tying goal with a minute left.
It’s been feast or famine for the Canucks, who have scored three or more goals in six of their past ten games, but, again, just two wins. It isn’t just one thing that ails the Canucks, it’s just about everything going wrong, all at once, without many reinforcements coming for the future. Injuries have taken a toll, with Loui Eriksson, Sven Baertschi, and Brock Boeser all out for the season, Brendan Gaunce and Markus Granlund out until later this month, and Chris Tanev not quite ready to return after a leg injury. Boeser’s been one of the few players to watch in Vancouver, as much for his glorious hair as for his hockey skills; he leads the Canucks in goals and points and even though the Canucks still weren’t winning many games before his injury, it’s been easy to see that he’s a player that’s going to be a scoring threat for quite some time in this league.
Without Boeser and Baertschi, it’s falling on Bo Horvat to lead the way among the ranks of the young players who are the future of the Canucks. Horvat looks to be on the top line tonight, which is a little young and a little scrappy. The second line has the Sedins and… someone. Jussi Jokinen had been playing there, but the Canucks confirmed that he’s out tonight, and they’re running out of healthy bodies to replace him. I pencilled in Nikolay Goldobin, who Canucks fans would like to see have more opportunities to show what he’s made of on the ice, instead of sitting as a healthy scratch. Maybe tonight’s his night.
For the Kings?
Today’s practice was optional, and yesterday’s practice showed some very mixed up lines. We’ve seen weird configurations before, especially on non-game day practices, and it could be that John Stevens wanted to do a little message sending, and lines will revert to normal in a few hours.
Or we might see Fourth Line Tyler Toffoli.
There was lots of blame to go around based on Saturday’s game. I don’t think any player in that lineup can say he played his best game. And all because the Canucks are a struggling team doesn’t mean the Kings get to sit back and play the same as they did on Saturday. Weak along the boards, poor puck management, baffling decision making — that’s going to come back and bite you no matter who’s on the opposite side of the ice.
Will there be surprise scratches? Will Paul LaDue finally get to play another game? Will Jack Campbell get the start? Both goalies struggled equally against the Blues, but so did the collection of men in front of them.
We’ll find out shortly.
P.S. Don’t, uh, get too concerned or anything, but, uh, also, there’s this:
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Pearson - Kopitar - Brown
Rieder - Carter - Lewis
Kempe - Amadio - Mitchell
Iafallo - Andreoff - Toffoli
Forbort - Doughty
Phaneuf - Martinez
Muzzin - Folin
Leipsic - Horvat - Gagner
D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Goldobin
Archibald - Sutter - Virtanen
Boucher - Dowd - Motte
Edler - Gudbranson
Del Zotto - Stecher
Biega - Pouliot
Opposing Preview: Nucks Misconduct