Game Day: Canucks strive for elusive 3rd win in a row

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Canucks Game Day Kings

The Canucks return to Rogers Arena to battle against the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Kings.

Vancouver, surprisingly, won 3-2 against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night after beating the San Jose Sharks the night before. The Canucks seem to have very little problem beating the Sharks in San Jose, but to win in Anaheim in the 2nd of back-to-back games was a borderline miracle.

How surprising was the win against the Ducks?

Game Time: 7 p.m.

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

The Kings are, once again, Stanley Cup favourites and still Canuck kryptonite.

While the LA is coming into Vancouver with a mediocre record of 5-5-0 in their last 10 games, they simply are a team that the Canucks have had no answer for since 2012. The Canucks clearly do not match up well against the Kings.

Part of Jim Benning’s rebuild involves injecting speed and size into the lineup in order to better compete with teams like the Kings and Sharks that have run roughshod over the Canucks the last few years.

East Vancouver’s own Milan Lucic has put together a fine season with his new team and currently sits 4th in team scoring with 51 points (17-34-51). But it’s the same guys that are doing most of the heavy lifting for the Kings this season, notably Norris Trophy contender Drew Doughty (14-35-49) and high scoring centre Anze Kopitar (25-45-70).

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Storylines

1. Vocal Canuck fans hard to please

It is becoming a little odd to see the reaction the Canucks receive by many when they happen to win. The Canucks win and those that want the Canucks to get a good draft pick cry foul.

Of course, when the Canucks lose it becomes an all out indictment of management’s ineptitude.

In other words, the Canucks cannot win for losing.

2. Virtanen returns

Jake Virtanen returns from his 2-game suspension. This is good news for those that do not want Virtanen to lose that edge that he plays with. The Canucks lineup, for years now, has missed that type of player that has a streak of unpredictability. Virtanen is unpredictable, hits hard, and has a bit of mean streak.

Virtanen has vowed to play smarter, but he can’t lose his physical edge that makes him a good player.

I personally thought two games was a bit much for a late hit that was essentially shoulder-to-shoulder. There is a reason that the Canucks are rumoured to covet Milan Lucic should he make it to the UFA market in the offseason. Everyone wants a few players that can score and hit with a bit of craziness mixed in.

 

3. Draft spot on everyone’s mind

While the Canucks may receive displeasure from fans whether they win or lose, it’s clear that almost everyone is keeping a close eye on the standings. The Canucks are going to get a high draft pick, how high will depend on whether or not the Canucks catch a break and win the draft lottery.

It isn’t hyperbole to suggest that the last four games could change the fortunes of an unfortunate franchise.

With all the Canadian teams officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1970, the draft lottery on April 30th will be a must-see moment.

Lineup

Ryan Miller will be back in the net for the Canucks with Linden Vey, Sven Baertschi, and Chris Higgins all on the shelf with various injuries.

Based on yesterday’s practice, the lineup should look as follows:

D. Sedin H. Sedin Hansen
Dorsett Horvat Etem
McCann Granlund Virtanen
Pedan Gaunce Burrows
Hamhuis Tanev
Hutton Tryamkin
Bartkowski Biega
Miller

Prediction

The Canucks rarely beat the Kings when completely healthy and playing well. What are the odds the Canucks find a way to pull off another win against a California team?

Slim to none.

The Kings take this one 4-2 and Lucic nets the game winner.

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Ian Lusher Canucks Contributor
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