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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks @ LA- Oct 22/16

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First meets worst as the surprise team of the early NHL season spends a weekend with a couple of surprises in their own right, starting tonight with the Kings.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings

7:00 PM PT - Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

TV: CBC - Radio: TSN 1040

First off, we should start with the good news. After so many times where we wondered just what the hell they were doing. After all the instances where it was obvious they just didn’t care what we thought. Finally, Sportsnet is giving the masses what they want:

There’s a sense of optimism around the team right now that no one really imagined they should have, even some of the more glass-full people surely didn’t see the team starting 4-0-0. And while a lot is being made about how they’ve won the games (granted, you do need to pay attention to this because the changes to the game this team have made defensively have been a revelation), you’re gonna suck the fun out of all this if you get tied up on style points. That hasn’t stopped some fans from getting a little pumped...

They’re not supposed to be here. I don’t care what management says (and I am gonna hold off on calling them geniuses until they’ve actually made this team into a legit playoff contender), this isn’t the way things were supposed to go down. They’re not the 65 point disaster some predicted, but they’re not gonna win the Presidents’ Trophy, let alone the Pacific Division.

And speaking of awful, let’s talk about tonight’s opponent, the Los Angeles Kings:

Canucks CATEGORY Kings 4-0-0 SEASON RECORD 1-3-0 8 Points 2 1st Division Position 6th Won 4 Streak Won 1 2.25 (27) GF/60 2.50 (24) 1.50 (2) GA/60 3.75 (25) 6.7 (29) PP % 14.3 (20) 91.7 (9) PK % 76.9 (20) 48.7 (18) FO % 50.9 (14) 8.3 (25) SH % 8.6 (23) 54.3 (5) Corsi For % 56.1 (3) 102.3 (9) PDO 94.6 (30)

THE OPPOSITION

It comes as much of a shock to many just how bad the Southern Cali teams have been out of the gate. Both LA and Anaheim have just one win, both notching them Thursday night. We’ll look at why the Ducks are awful tomorrow, but for now let’s look at the Kings, shall we?

It would be easy to blame things on the loss of G Jonathan Quick to a knee injury. He’s going to be out for 3 months, and as we’ve seen so far from the games they’ve played, the Kings organization seems to be lacking in depth in the crease. So that means they’re likely to try and work out a deal to get a legit NHL goalie in to stop the bleeding til Quick is ready to return. Instantly some thought the Kings would pull the trigger on a deal for Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavalec, who is currently with their AHL squad, and the Kings may just do that. We hope they do, because he’s really not very good and likely to at best allow them to tread water in the sub-basement of the Pacific.

Some have said they should acquire Ryan Miller, but this deal makes no sense from a Canucks standpoint. First, management have stated their goal is to get to the playoffs, and Miller is a key to that. If he stays healthy, this team has a pretty decent 1-2 punch in goal to get them there. Second, LA’s cap situation would require the Canucks to eat some salary in a deal, and I can’t imagine they’d want to do that with them already doing that on the Luongo deal. And let’s face it: if the Canucks think they can get to the playoffs, the last thing they want to do is to make things easier for one of the teams standing in their way.

Statistically, the Kings and Canucks are fairly close, but it’s the results that are different. It’s the goaltending both teams are getting that has been the difference so far. They’ve allowed a significantly smaller amount of shots than the league average, yet their save % is .35 below the league average. The Kings bottom 3 D not being all that good right now isn’t helping their situation. Peter Budaj held on for a Kings OT win against Dallas, and if they’re not going to acquire a goalie, they’ll have to ride him hard, because Jeff Zatkoff’s numbers show he’s not able to give them the kind of support they need from their backup to keep things from getting away from them.

Quick won’t be back until at least January. This Kings team could be done by that time, and let’s face it, given what we know about this organization, isn’t that really what’s best for the game of hockey?

And if things couldn’t get worse for LA, Zatkoff injured his groin during the morning skate, and that means it’s Budaj, with Jack Campbell likely being called up to back him up tonight.

THE CANUCKS

We saw Willie D. bring out the Line-o-Matic 3000 on Thursday, trying to get something going with various players. The Sedins and Loui Ericsson were split up, and tonight we’ll see some more changes.

Sven Baertschi on the top line with Daniel and Henrik, and a 2nd line of Brandon Sutter, Jannik Hansen and Markus Granlund. Ericsson is on line 3 with Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen, who returns to the lineup after sitting in the last 2, and the 4th line is Brendan Gaunce, with Alex Burrows and Derek Dorsett.

No changes on the back end for the Canucks, and it looks like Jacob Markstrom, who has been spectacular so far this season, will get the start, with Ryan Miller in goal tomorrow night in Anaheim. A win tonight is going to be a franchise record for the best start ever for the Canucks, and while that would be nice and all, it really is about the 2 points on the line. 65 keeps getting closer and closer, and with this team and it’s injury prone players, best to make hay now while you can before the regression hits.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

While Metallica may be the kings of cover tunes in the metal world, Megadeth proved themselves no slouches on their classic Peace Sells... But Who`s Buying? album, reworking an old Willie Dixon tune ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’. This really showcased the influences of guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelsson, and remains one of the better covers of all time.