The league’s best home team host the Western conference’s best overall team as the Canucks host the Los Angeles Kings tonight at GM Place. The Canucks play their third game of their current eight-game home stand, and are perfect so far with 2 wins and no losses.
Tonight’s test will certainly be the biggest challenge yet, as the Los Angeles Kings sit atop the Western Conference standings and are the NHL’s hottest team, going 8-1-1 in their last ten games.
The Canucks have had a lot of success against the Kings in recent years, and will look to keep that going. Vancouver has won four in a row against LA, and 6 of their 7. The Canucks will also be looking to break a trend this season – Vancouver has not won more than two games in a row all year. This inability to put together a lengthy string of wins has been a main contributor to the team sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference.
For the Kings, their star forward Anze Kopitar appears to be coming out of a goal-scoring slump. Kopitar has scored two goals in his last three games, after having gone goalless in 13. The Kings other big threat this season is sophomore Drew Doughty. Doughty is only three points away from matching his point total from last season and is currently +27 higher than last season in the plus/minus category (-17 last season versus +10 this season). Doughty has also been mentioned by many as a serious candidate for the Canadian Olympic team, ahead of contenders like Mike Green and Brent Burns.
For the Canucks, right now it’s all about Henrik Sedin. Hank is now tied with Marion Gaborik for 2nd in overall league points, and tied for 4th in assists. His is also a +9 and leads the league in even-strength points with 29. Right now, quite simply, Hank is a Hart-trophy candidate and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that about a member of the Canucks. The Sedin line overall has been electric since Daniel’s return from injury and will continue to be a force against the Kings tonight.
Canucks’ games against Los Angeles tend to be low-scoring, tight-checking affairs. Look for more of the same tonight, as the Canucks aim to remain perfect during this home stand and inch higher up the standings in the West.