Canucks vs Kings Game Day Report: Lucic's audition

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Canucks Game Day Kings

The Canucks take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight to end their brief California adventure.

Last night the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks played a fast paced game with Vancouver winning 2-1 via the dreaded shootout.

Game Time: 7:30 pm

TV: Sportsnet Vancouver

Canucks road trips to California in the past few years have been less than memorable, but last night’s effort against the Ducks followed a different narrative. Backed by stellar goaltending from Ryan Miller, the Canucks hung on to secure a single point then hit pay dirt in the shootout.

Let’s be honest.  After an excellent game to start the season in Calgary, the Canucks have been outplayed two games in a row and have been fortunate to receive 3 out 4 points in the process.

Playing the highly touted Ducks one night and the dreaded LA Kings on the next is a daunting task. The Canucks have not matched up well against the Kings, in particular, for several years now and the Kings are chomping at the bit to secure their first win of the season. Regardless of the outcome, Canucks-Kings games are almost always entertaining. Get the popcorn at the ready!

 

Storylines

1. Virtanen’s Debut?

The Jake Virtanen watch continues.

Many felt it was a natural fit for Virtanen to make his NHL debut last night against a physical Ducks team. It didn’t happen.

With Sven Baertschi getting demoted in-game and Jared McCann playing a team low 10:32 against the Ducks, you have to think that Virtanen will finally get his chance to draw into the lineup. There is little doubt the Canucks could use Virtanen’s speed and physical game against the Kings, but Willie Desjardins can be a tough one to figure out.

Realistically, the odds are that McCann is made the healthy scratch, Brandon Sutter is moved back into the middle in his spot, and Virtanen makes his much anticipated NHL debut.

 

2. Lucic auditions for his future team

Last month, our Rob Williams waxed poetic about his desire to see Lucic in a Canucks uniform.

While perhaps a little premature, it is hard to not believe this isn’t an inevitability. In a sense, tonight’s game against the Canucks is simply Lucic’s first audition of five to impress Canucks management that he should be their #1 priority in the off-season.

Who are we kidding?

I’m not sure what Lucic would have to do to make Benning and company sour on signing him as a free agent, but a lacklustre year could actually make the potential contract a little more palatable for those expecting a massive overpay (insert Luca Sbisa remark).

Lucic in an LA Kings uniform is nothing more than a short-term engagement. I have to admit, Lucic just doesn’t not look right in that jersey.

 

3. Miller on a roll

Ryan Miller has started the season el fuego! The analytics guys are already screaming “sample size”, I know, but the Canucks have to be ecstatic about Miller’s start to the season.

It isn’t so much his stats, but how obvious it is that his reads are in mid-season form. Typically goalies do not play both games of back-to-backs, but this is one of the few times that playing Miller again makes sense. It is early in the season and the Canucks do not play again until Friday. Ride the hot goalie!

Now if only we could just get Miller tweeting about tacos then we may really have something.

 

Lineup

We will keep you updated when the lineup is confirmed. If Virtanen slots in, the lines could look something like this (as always, we will update this section if anything changes after the morning skate).

*UPDATE: It’s official, Jake Virtanen will play his first NHL game tonight.

D. Sedin H. Sedin Vrbata
Baertschi Horvat Virtanen
Burrows Sutter Hansen
Prust Cracknell Dorsett
              Edler Tanev
              Hamhuis Bartkowski
              Hutton Sbisa
Miller

 

Prediction

The Canucks game has been inconsistent to start the season, and Miller’s goaltending has hidden some serious defensive deficiencies. Look for the Canucks to keep it close, but fade in the end. The Kings defeat the Canucks 3-2, while Virtanen scores his first NHL goal.

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Ian Lusher Canucks Contributor
@ianlusher

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