In tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks shouldn’t have any difficulty finding motivation. After a less than brilliant 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, they have a shot at the Northwest Division title – if they win out and the Flames lose one of their final two games, the Canucks will end the regular season third in the West.
Of course, Calgary plays their final two games against the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have not only slumped their way out of a playoff spot, but after being mathematically eliminated they’ve turned to rookie goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (3-2-0, 3.57 GAA, .889 SV%) to finish off the season. Deslauriers hasn’t started an NHL game since November, or even an AHL game since a conditioning stint in early January.
None of that should matter, though – the Canucks can’t control what the Flames do, and their focus is surely on finishing the regular season on a winning note.
Their opposition, on the other hand, has little motivation to win. The Kings, by virtue of their latest win (over the Oilers), are now outside of the NHL draft lottery. They have 77 points; two ahead of Phoenix and three ahead of Atlanta – the 6th-worst record in the NHL, but not bad enough to be one of the five teams vying for a chance at the first overall pick.
They almost certainly won’t just roll over, but the edge that the Canucks have in both talent and motivation means that they should win this game – which also happens to be the final home game of the regular season.