Game #16 Preview: The Quick And The Dead

The travelling masses cheer in the presence of KesLORD.
And Dustin Penner haz a sad.
(Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #16 – Canucks @ Kings

The Vancouver Canucks roll in to SoCal tonight for the first of back-to-back games. The Canucks face a reeling Kings team that, prior to a very close win over the Predators on Tuesday, had lost 5 straight. The Canucks will be looking to send the Kings back to the loss column after their own convincing win against their arch-nemesis Blackhawks and a few days of R & R in Cali.

After a great win and some rest, does this get the Canucks back on track? Or will the let-down after a rival match-up and a few days off kill the Canucks tonight?

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 7:30 PM PT

TV: SN-VAN Radio: Team1040

The Setup

The Canucks fought off the downturn of two straight dire losses with a very convincing victory at the United Center on Sunday. Following that, the team travelled out to Los Angeles for a few days of team bonding and relaxation. The question now is: Will the big win and the few days of retooling and team bonding for the Canucks get them back on track to win several games in a row? Or will they suffer a letdown after that victory and a few days away from game speed?

Certainly, Cauncks fans are hoping for the former and the first test of this theory happens tonight as the Kings host the Canucks at Staples Center. The Kings have struggled to score goals at home, with only 17 goals in 8 home games. Leading the non-goal scoring charge is El Pudge – Dustin Penner. In fact, Penner has a miserable 0G 2A for 2 Pts in 13 games played this year. And he GOT those two points in LA’s last game. That’s nasty. He’s definitely the worst of the bunch, but LA isn’t really scoring in general.

For the Canucks, they have many positive lessons to take away from their win against the Blackhawks, which will all come in handy against the Kings tonight. The first is that their goalie and the team at large did not panic after allowing a true stinker of a goal. Luongo let in an early cupcake. But the team rebounded. And more importantly, Luongo rebounded strong making 38 saves on 40 shots. An important lesson to be sure, that your goalie and your team can rebound and put forth a very solid effort to win a game against a very tough opponent.

Beyond El Pudge flailing away, the Kings certainly have their firepower with Kopitar, Richards, Brown, Gagne and Williams. But the problem for the Kings is that they aren’t getting ANY scoring from their depth players… or their top 6 either. Kopitar and Gagne are the only Kings players with more than 3 goals. The Canucks have both Sedins, Burrows and Higgins with 5 goals or more, and remember that Kesler (who has 2 goals) missed the first 5 games of the season and is clearly still recovering. In fact, the Kings only have 5 players with 5 goals or more, and have 6 regulars that haven’t scored a goal yet. After Kopitar, Richards, Brown, Gagne and Williams, the offence is pretty dry in La La Land right now.

So the battle tonight will be the Kings depth scoring against the Canucks shaky even strength defence.

**NEWS** – Alex Burrows could suit against the Ducks tomorrow, but will not be in the lineup tonight. Sami Salo will be a game time decision.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. Get this thing going in the first period. First of all, they’ve been off for 4 days. They need to get into this game early to get the blood pumping again. But more importantly, the Kings have scored a mere 7 goals in the first period of their 15 games this season. Compare that to the Canucks who have scored 17 goals in the opening frame. The Canucks game plan has to be to fire it up in the first period, then lock down the second period. The Canucks defence has been miserable in the middle frame, allowing 19 goals and setting them at -5 in GF/GA. The Kings have shown to have much better output in the second period, so it will be very important for the Canucks to get their defensive house in SERIOUS order in the second period, after they (hopefully) build up a lead going into the first intermission.
  2. Get your defence on its game at 5-on-5. The Kings have a LOT of trouble scoring goals at even strength (they’re bottom 5 in the league). The Canucks defencemen need to use this game as a test on limiting chances and (more importantly) goals at even strength. If they lose the 5-on-5 battle tonight defensively, then its telling insight into the state of the Canucks defence.
  3. Pester the crap out of Jonathan Quick. Without lead agitator Alex Burrows in the lineup, it’s important for the other Canucks’ forwards to assume his role and get nasty in the LA crease. Jannik Hansen could certainly fit that bill and score an ugly, scrummy goal against the Blackhawks. Quick is not a fan of intense traffic in his personal space, so the Canucks have to exploit and get him off his game. Hansen, Kesler, and Lapierre will be key players to give Quick the old "I’m not touching yoouuuuuuuuu!" treatment.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Salo could light up Kings tilt Thursday night (The Province)
  3. Canucks’ Hansen revving up for first-line play (The Province)
  4. Kings’ Doughty could be best D-man ever (The Province)
  5. Canucks take potent power play to LA (CBC Sports)