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Canucks Pacific Division Rival Preview: Los Angeles Kings

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Vancouver Canucks
Mar 28, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) blocks a shot by Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (6) during overtime at Rogers Arena.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings can look at the Vancouver Canucks as a cautionary tale. At least, that’s what they should have done.

In fairness, the Kings did bring home two Stanley Cup (cue the tears of jealousy). However, since winning it all in 2014, they’ve won but one playoff game after losing to the San Jose Sharks in five games back in 2016 before being swept by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in 2018.

Now? The Kings are staring down the tunnel of a long and painful rebuild. Although they still have a number one defenceman in Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar’s scoring took at hit last season, and their number one goalie Jonathan Quick was one of the worst netminders in the league.

As for the rest of the roster, their old, slow, and patiently waiting for some of their recent top draft picks to make an impact. They’ve drafted the likes of Gabe Vilardi, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Rasmus Kupari, Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev over the last three seasons, but none of those guys are primed to make an impact in 2019-20.

They were winning Stanley Cups five years ago, but the Los Angeles Kings could find themselves in the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes by the end of this season.

In: Todd McLellan (head coach), Martin Frk (free agent, DET), Joakim Ryan (free agent, SJ), Mario Kempe (free agent, ARI)

Out: Dion Phaneuf (buyout), Brendan Leipsic (free agent, WSH)

Quick Take: It’s abundantly clear that the Kings are either hoping for a magical revitalization from their slow, aging core, or that they’re really just throwing in the towel for this season.

The Kings were a middle of the road team last season for defending scoring chances at even-strength, but they just couldn’t muster anything from their offence. Anze Kopitar went from 92 points in 2017-18 to 60 last year. Tyler Toffoli had 13 goals. Free agent signing Ilya Kovalchuk was a bust with 34 points in 64 games.

As shown above, maybe the most disturbing statistic was how bad Quick was. It’s some solace that Jack Campbell was an above average back-up, but their lack of offence and spotty goaltending were two big reasons why the Kings plummeted down the standings last season. It’s hard to envision either of those improving this year, although buying out Dion Phaneuf does help the defence.

Kings overall record in 2018-19: 31-42-9: 71 points (Worst in Western Conference, 2nd worst in NFL)

Kings 2018-19 record against Canucks: 1-1-2

The Canucks stole seven of a possible eight points against the Kings last year, as three of those four contests went beyond 60 minutes. The only one that didn’t was the first, when Elias Pettersson score the game-winning goal mid-way through the third period.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings
Feb 14, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vancouver Canucks center Adam Gaudette (88) celebrates after scoring against Los Angeles Kings defenseman Derek Forbort (24) and goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) with 1.38 left in the third period at Staples Center.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As quiet as Adam Gaudette was offensively for the Canucks last season, he did score two of his five goals versus the woeful Kings. One was a game-tying goal with less than two minutes to play, which lifted the Canucks to a shootout win. Six of Gaudette’s 12 career points have now come against either Arizona or Los Angeles.

Canucks vs. Kings games in 2019-20

  • Wednesday, October 9th vs. Kings (7:00 pm, Home Opener)
  • Wednesday, October 30th @ Kings (7:30 pm)
  • Sunday, December 28th vs. Kings (7:00 pm)
  • Saturday, March 21st @ Kings (7:00 pm)