Kings-Canucks Preview: Burn it to the Ground
The Kings put their newly rediscovered competency to the test against their toughest opponent of late.
(Do the sad crowd faces in that photo ever get old? Nope.)
On the one hand, I'm not very proud of taking the easy road with that headline. On the other hand, I'm still in disbelief that the Canucks asked their fanbase, which previously literally set their city on fire, to vote on whether the team should skate out to a song called Burn it to the Ground. That is either a breathtaking lack of self-awareness or some stone-cold trolling of their own fans, and both options are hilarious to me.
In actual hockey news, tonight your Los Angeles Kings, now winners of five straight, go up against a Vancouver Canucks team missing one of their top-pairing defencemen (Kevin Bieksa) and their second-line centre (Ryan Kesler). The Nucks have struggled a bit recently: they got dumped by Phoenix 4-2 last game, and Roberto Luocho made a reappearance in the previous game against the Red Wings. They still sit atop the Northwest, however, with 24 points in 19 games. The Kings are seventh in the West, with 22 points in 18 games.
Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks (Rogers Arena)
Time: 7.00 PM Pacific
TV: CBC, NHL Network, RDS2, Fox Sports West
Enemy reading: Nucks Misconduct, Canucks Army
Canucks (projected) lineup:
Injured: Kesler (foot), Bieksa (groin), Malhotra (?)
Kings (projected) lineup:
Injured: Greene (back), Mitchell (knee), Martinez (upper body)
- As we noted yesterday, Alec Martinez appears close to returning to active duty, and it's possible that he'll suit up as soon as tonight. Prior to his injury, I believe the D-pairings were Martinez-Doughty, Scuderi-Voynov, and Muzzin-Drewiske, so it's possible Coach Sutter will revert to those. Of the two young borderline guys, Jake Muzzin has been getting more minutes and playing better than Keaton Ellerby, so it seems likely that Ellerby will be the one taking a seat if/when Martinez returns.
- The ineffectual play of the bottom-6 led Coach Sutter to do some line juggling last game, sliding Dustin Penner up and Trevor Lewis down and Kyle Clifford all around, as he benched Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan for most of the third. We'll just have to watch and see how he chooses to set things up tonight. (By god, is that Brad Richardson's music? Probably not. But at this point I maybe wouldn't mind seeing him instead of Nolan.)
- In lieu of special teams fun with numbers, here is an actual Special Teams Fun with Numbers post from Robert. Join me in crying about Anze Kopitar's 5v4 shot totals, please.
- Jonathan Bernier played a real good game against the Red Wings, stopping all 10 Red Wings scoring chances which were directed on goal. In particular, he was the only thing keeping the Kings in the game during the first period when the horrific penalty kill looked like it was trying to gift the Wings a goal or seven. It's possible he'll be back in net against the Canucks, but I'd be very surprised if Jonathan Quick doesn't start. Quick might not replicate his Conn Smythe form, but he's still gotta get better, and I think at this point the only way to do that is to play.
- At the other end of the rink, I think we'll be seeing Cory Schneider. The Canucks haven't played since Tuesday, and follow up this game with one less than twenty-four hours later in Calgary - where, presumably, Roberto Luongo will get the start.
- Unfortunately for the Kings, the Canucks made some roster moves yesterday, putting the Second Line Centre Andrew Ebbett experience to bed for good. It looks like fresh waiver wire claim and notoriously virtuous angel Tom Sestito, late of the Philadelphia Flyers, will slot into the lineup. Huge guy with not a lot of self-control trying to prove himself to a new team - what could go wrong?
- I'm a bit confused about what the Canucks are doing with their lines - I had thought they were putting Zack Kassian back up with the Sedins, where he'd been fairly good earlier in the season (points-wise - I'm not sure about his underlying numbers) and trying out Alexandre Burrows at 2C in Kesler's absence - and they're scoring goals at a reduced clip. But, although the Canucks sans Kesler are not as good, they're still not "dick around for the whole first period and make your goaltender stand on his head, then slowly realise that you're a pro hockey player in a pro hockey game" not as good. In other words, don't play like you did on Wednesday, jerks.
- Still, I'm re-posting this because I plan to re-post it forever:
Go Kings Go