The good news is the Canucks are back home from a road trip that finished strong in spite of some pretty awful moments. The bad news? They only play 2 teams sitting in a playoff spot in their final 7 games of the season. Normally this would be a blessing, but given the er, lack of desire shown of late, some are worried about how they'll round things out. Then again, the way the Canucks have responded to Daniel Sedin's concussion after getting douchebagged by El Codo Grande (h/t to Shand for the awesome nickname) might give one cause to wonder if maybe this is what we've been waiting for. While they certainly didn't start well in Colorado Saturday night, the Avs insistence on playing like dicks awoke a sleeping bear, and a team that should have just put the game in lockdown mode instead coughed up a two goal lead and thanks to the Honey-Badgerest play of the Canucks season, a Chris Higgins goal cost them a much needed point as they try to make the playoffs. Tonight another team struggling to make the dance, coming off a Saturday loss to the Boston Broons, the Los Angeles Kings find themselves struggling for relevance, despite starting the year as a team to beat and then after adding Jeff Carter at the deadline once again being touted as a team to be wary of. As they sit in 8th in a 3 way tie holding the tie-breaker, I find myself wondering just why we're supposed to fear what looks like one of the most underachieving teams of the year?
There's one thing you can't deny: Los Angeles has great goaltending. Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier have been rock solid, and the LA defence is as good as any at grinding offenses to a halt. The Kings may be scoring a tad more since the addition of Carter, but this is still a team that plays a locked down trap game night in and night out. Chances are this will very much be a Minnesota-style game, folks. This is what's gotten LA this far and they're certainly not going to try and get into a shootout with the Canucks even with their recent offensive struggles.
One other thing to watch tonight is there should be a fair amount of animosity. These teams do not like each other, a lot of it a holdover from their playoff series a couple years back, and the rest solely comprised of Drew Doughty being an insufferable douche. Doughty, for all his talent has a knack for cheap, dirty and quite often late hits, flamboyant embellishments and a penchant for hysterical overreactions. The Canucks awakening from their maddening PP slump would be a good thing tonight, as Doughty is usually good for at least a couple power plays a night.
Roberto Luongo gets the start tonight, coming off a strong performance in Colorado. Aaron Rome is out after suffering a knee injury against Colorado and will be replaced by either Andrew Alberts or Marc-Andre Gragnani tonight. The Canucks can, with a little help from the Flames, lock up 2nd spot tonight with the win. Calgary beating Dallas will ensure they can't finish lower than 2nd and move them to within two points of the St Louis Blues for first overall. The Canucks are using their game in hand on the Blues tonight.
The closer we get to the playoffs the more I want to try and shut out other sources of hockey information in an attempt to keep my sanity. From Ryan Lambert calling Henrik Sedin a hypocrite on Puck Daddy today, obviously buying into the notion that Daniel's hit was anything but a hockey play gone wrong, to the bizarre rantings of Hawks fans over at SCH, it's clear that last year was nothing compared to the media barrage the Canucks and their fans are going to face heading into the post-season. Embracing The Hate will be a necessity for survival, but just remember to pick your battles. There's gonna be a ton of people spouting stuff about the Canucks; truth, lies and some mish-mash of the two. It's part of life around here and reacting to every little thing is gonna kill your enjoyment of what should be another great playoff run.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
In a real high-speed crazyass riff mood today, so LA's Bonded By Blood offer the perfect fix. From 'Feed The Beast' here's 'Tormenting Voices'...