Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 79 @ Vancouver
April 5, 2014
7pm PST (10pm EST)
The Los Angeles Kings may have seen their franchise-tying eighth-straight road winning streak snapped on Thursday, but they are no less motivated entering Vancouver where they hope to cap off a series sweep of the Canucks.
While their rivalry has intensified over the last few years, the Kings and Canucks won’t likely be meeting this postseason. While Los Angeles has already clinched a playoff spot, their new division rivals need a lot of help to get into the playoffs. They may be mathematically still alive but after Friday night, the Canucks sit six points out of the second and final wild card spot in the West with just five games remaining. With third in the Pacific already wrapped up, the Kings will enter Saturday night’s contest looking to play the role of spoiler.
This marks the fifth and final meeting between these heated rivals with Los Angeles winning all of the previous four, including a 3-2 overtime victory back on January 25, the only time these teams met at Rogers Arena thus far.
En route to their loss on Thursday night, the Kings lost defenseman Drew Doughty with an upper-body injury. While he did not return to the game, it is believed that the blueliner’s injury is not severe. In fact, when asked about Doughty on Friday, head coach Darryl Sutter told the media that “he might play tomorrow.” If he doesn’t, the Kings have called up Andrew Campbell from Manchester.
While he has appeared in a few preseason games for Los Angeles, the 26-year-old blueliner has yet to make his regular-season debut with the big club. Campbell hopes to make an immediate impact assuming the coaching staff elect to put him in Saturday’s lineup.
But while the Canucks hope to take advantage of Doughty’s absence, the Kings will look to take advantage of a team in turmoil.
This season, the Canucks have lost a number of players to injury but have also had to deal with a fair bit of drama which includes first-year head coach John Tortorella and GM Mike Gillis, both of whom are on the hot seat should the Canucks miss the playoffs. Also, with Roberto Luongo traded, the Kings will be up against a good but inexperienced netminder in Eddie Lack. While it is unfair to pin Vancouver’s struggles on Lack’s shoulders, it is evident (not yet, at least) that the Swedish backstop is not a bona fide NHL starter. Then again, I have been wrong before.
Despite their struggles, the Canucks do have a couple of hot hands in their lineup.
Daniel Sedin enters Saturday having scored three points in his last four games while Zach Kassian has registered seven points in his last five outings.
Should Los Angeles find a way to contain them, they will match a franchise record with their 46th win of the season. The same goes for Darryl Sutter whose career-high is also 46.
While Kings’ fans will be happy to hear Bob Miller and Jim Fox call the game once again, fans in Canada will get to see these two clubs square off as part of the latter half of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader.
Enjoy the game!