GAME TIME: 7:00 PST
TV: Canucks PPV
The Enemy: Battle of California
UPDATE (2:13 PM): Rick Rypien has a sore hand because Ben Eager's ugly face hit it last game. If he isn't good to go, Darcy Hordichuk will take his spot tonight.
UPDATE (12:00 AM): Sami Salo's ice-time has been reduced lately, but he's not giving up. You may be surprised at what else he has to say.
"They played a real slow-the-game," Murray said, "five guys back at their own blue line kind of a game, and took a lot of the emotion and speed out of the game. That was a good strategy by them. It was a good plan."
That is what Kings coach Terry Murray said of the Canucks' play the last time these 2 teams faced eachother in late October, where the Canucks won 2-1 in a shootout. Vancouver shut down the Kings' top line and limited L.A.'s prime scoring opportunities. Andrew Raycroft stopped 30 of 31 shots and was the first star of the game. Mikael Samuelsson scored the tying goal and the winning goal in the shootout.
Once again, the Canucks get to play a team that is playing in a back-to-back scenario, and Vancouver is coming off an extended layoff. This really has to play a role in the outcome of this game. There is no reason for the Canucks not to maintain a strong consistent effort against the Kings. The Kings beatthe Oilers 3-1 last night after a 4-day layoff. Their top line (Kopitar-Williams-Brown) was kept off the scoresheet, but guys like Frolov and Simmonds responded. Anze Kopitar played over 23:00 in that game, second only to Jack Jerkson, I mean Johnson.
I read somewhere that after the Kings lost to Flames on Saturday, the Kings had played 24 games in 50 days, and that was the second-most grueling schedule in the NHL this season behind San Jose. Cry me a river. The Canucks have played 23 games in 52 days. STFU. That being said...
Now that the long layoffs are over the Canucks will play 6 games in the next 10 nights and 14 games in the next 27 nights. They will play back-to-back games 3 times between now and January 2nd. The longest layoff will be a 4-day rest at Xmas time. Perfect! We'll be too busy shoving turkey and salad down our throats and putting up with family to care! Yeah, there is going to be a lot of Canucks hockey from now until the Olympic Break. Ole!
No Ryan Smyth in the Kings' lineup tonight and that is a good thing, as he not only is a smaller, feistier version of Dustin Byfuglyen, he also had 24 points in 23 games in the Kings' top line.The Kings are now 1-2 without him.
A bit more about the Kings:
-they are Alyssa Milano's favorite hockey team. Yeah, she told me that on Twitter, yes I'm bragging. Damn she has bad taste.
-the Kings rank just a bit higher than the Canucks in goals per game.
-they allow more goals per game than we do. (rank 25th...are you listening Wellwood?)
-Vancouver ranks better than the Kings on the powerplay.
-the Kings and Canucks both suck at killing penalties, with Vancouver holding a slight advantage.
-L.A. averages less shots per game than we do.
-The Kings and Canucks both allow a lot of shots per game on average, both in the bottom 10 in the category with the Kings being worse.
-The Kings lick in the faceoff category, where the Canucks don't.
Keep an eye out for updates at the top of this post as game time draws near. Let's see if Bolduc replaces Wellwood or not. You never know. That noose is getting tight around Woody's neck right now.
See? There is no reason why we can't hand these guys their asses tonight. No excuses at all.
Don't forget to add your score prediction in the comments thread. 1 point for guessing the right score, 1 point for guessing the right team, and 1 point for guessing who scores the game winner. Not as easy as it sounds. After 2 games nobody has a single point yet! Somewhere Nostradamus is rolling in his grave.