Game Day Preview #48, Los Angeles Kings @ Vancouver Canucks

Let’s start a new streak!

Preview: Los Angeles Kings (25-17-5) @ Vancouver Canucks

Game Day Watch: How to Watch and What to Watch

A win! Wow! Awesome!

I don’t know about you, but I felt pretty good after that game. Even looking at stats about how the Rangers Maybe Aren’t That Good couldn’t dim my enthusiasm over three power play goals, net-front presence, good puck movement, and Adrian Kempe’s hair.

The Canucks present their own challenge tonight, in that by all available metrics, the Canucks are not particularly good, and yet they consistently give the Kings a hard time anyway. In their first meeting this season, the Kings managed to blow a two-goal lead (sound familiar?) to lose 3-2 in regulation; in the second meeting, the Kings got scored on first (sound familiar?), tied the game, and gave up a go-ahead goal to a former player in the first minute of a period (sound familiar??!) before finally getting their act together and winning.

Speaking of that former player: I know some of us had mild grumbles about the trade that sent Nic Dowd to Vancouver. Like someone said in the comments, he’s a mediocre fourth-line player, but he was our mediocre fourth-line player. The other day I was thinking about him, as one does sometimes, and went to pull up his stats and, well, he’s been remarkably consistent in being exactly the same player he was all season for the Kings.

So — probably not a threat. All things considered, probably not a bad trade. Will he still somehow be very motivated and buzzing around the net all night tonight? Yeah, probably.

The Canucks are healthier tonight than they have been in a while, with Bo Horvat back in the lineup after missing some time with an injury. The real bright spot for the Canucks however continues to be rookie Brock Boeser, who is second in scoring (41 points) and first in goals (22) scored by rookies. He leads his team in points and is the kind of young player the Canucks really should look to build around for the future. Boeser has cooled off a bit, with only one assist in his past five games; his last goal was scored back on January 6 against Toronto.

The lack of offense isn’t just limited to Boeser, but as he goes, so do the Canucks, who have just eight even strength goals since the start of the year.

The Canucks are in fact one of the lowest scoring teams, with just 121 goals overall, putting them 25th in the league. (The Kings are 18th with 133 goals.) When their skilled forwards aren’t producing, there hasn’t been much picking up of slack from others. Their three wins in the past ten games isn’t exactly a surprise — and while they’re kicking off a lengthy home stand tonight, they also have one of the worst home records in the league, sitting at 7-12-3 on the season so far.

The Kings came out against the Rangers looking to break their losing streak and play a strong team game, and they did just that. The combination of the Kings’ traditional poor play in January, plus their traditional poor play against bottom-tier teams, makes this game possibly more of a nail-biter than it needs to be. But every point counts, and taking a confident two points away from a Pacific team would do wonders for the Kings, not to mention it would allow them to leapfrog Calgary to get back into the playoff picture.

The most notable lineup change is bumping Mike Amadio up to center the third line. His acquitted himself well with his increased ice time against the Rangers and deserves a longer look. Pairing him with two strong veteran players is a good move; Amadio excelled when skating with Matt Moulson in Ontario, and though Amadio’s known as a responsible player in his own right, putting him with a more defense-first player like Trevor Lewis could free him up to be a bit more creative offensively.

Jonathan Quick allegedly starts tonight. Start your discussion now on whether he’s pulling back-to-back duty or if we’ll actually see Darcy Kuemper against Calgary.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Kempe - Toffoli
Gaborik - Amadio - Lewis
Clifford - Shore - Mitchell

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Gravel - Folin


Vancouver Canucks

Baertschi - Horvat - Boeser
Sedin - Sedin - Vanek
Granlund - Sutter - Gagner
Eriksson - Dowd - Virtanen

Edler - Stecher
Del Zotto - Tanev
Hutton - Biega


Opposing Preview: Nucks Misconduct