If you’ve been a Canucks fan for the last couple of seasons, you’ve probably wished a plague on the entire Los Angeles Kings roster at one time or another. Between the heated playoff battles, the taunting tweets, the mimicked slogan, there’s no love lost between these 2 teams, and the thought of a casual Saturday game between them likely sends you into a fit of anxiety.
It’s a brand new season, of course, and now both teams to renew their rivalry, with the first of 4 regular season meetings in La-la-land tonight at 7:00 PM. The Canucks won 2 of 3 meetings with the Kings last season, and were 1-0-1 at the Staples Center. As of this morning, they’re 4 points up on their now division rivals, but the Kings have 2 games in hand.
What to Watch
Another battle of Olympic proportions.
Jonathan Quick may very well be Team USA’s starting goaltender for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. And of course, Roberto Luongo, and his pretty darn good start to the season, surely has him still in competition for a spot with Team Canada.
Luongo’s numbers are just a tad better than Quick’s at the moment. Luongo’s 0.916 save % is 19th in the NHL, while Quick’s 0.901 save % is 35th. Luongo’s 2.23 GAA is 16th in the NHL, while Quick’s 2.48 GAA is 24th.
Luongo is playing just a tad better as well. He hasn’t allowed more than 2 goals a game in his last 7 starts, and has a 0.935 save % in that span.
Before Quick posted a shutout against the Buffalo Sabres in his most recent start on Thursday, he had allowed 3 or more goals in 8 of the 13 games he’d played.
Coach John Tortorella has juggled the Canucks’ lines in the early season, and his most recent line combinations have been working really well. At the very least, the team’s secondary scoring concerns have been somewhat alleviated as the second, third and fourth lines have produced 8 of the Canucks’ last 10 goals.
In particular, the second line has been quite effective. Mike Santorelli, perhaps the biggest surprise of the season, has a 3-game point streak, and has a total of 5 goals and 12 points in 18 games. Linemate Chris Higgins with 6 goals and 10 points in 18 games as well, including 5 points in his last 6 games. Alex Burrows, who just recently returned from injury, recorded his first 2 points of the season in the Canucks’ most recent game, a win against the San Jose Sharks last Thursday.
For the Kings, Anze Kopitar has 5 points (3 goals and 2 assists) in a 3-game point streak, and leads the team with 16 points. Likewise, Mike Richards has 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) in a 3-game point streak; he sits 2 points behind Kopitar for the team lead in points.
No new additions to the Canuck’s injury list, thank goodness. Jordan Schroeder remains out along with Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen. Meanwhile, David Booth is with the Utica Comets on a conditioning stint. He notched an assist last night as the Comets finally won their first game of the season.
For the Kings, Jarret Stoll is questionable for the game, and Jeff Carter, who is currently tied for the Kings’ team lead in goals (5), is on the injured reserve and won’t play.