LOS ANGELES – The Vancouver Canucks (10-13-2) are looking to put an end to an eight-game losing streak when they face former head coach Willie Desjardins and the last place Los Angeles Kings (7-13-1) at Staples Center tonight.
The Canucks dropped their seventh straight game in regulation and eighth overall (0-7-1) last night when they were blanked 4-0 in San Jose. It was the team’s second shutout loss of the season and the fourth time in the past eight games in the state of California that the Canucks were held off the scoresheet. The Sharks struck three times on six power play opportunities scoring their first three goals of the night with the man-advantage. The Canucks set season lows for shots in a game 19 and shots in a period with just three in the final frame.
Penalty killing continues to be a massive issue for the Canucks who have successfully killed 12 of their last 20 penalties (60%) over the past five games and 29 of 44 (65.9%) in 12 games since Brandon Sutter left the line-up on October 29th. The Canucks lead the NHL with 99 minor penalties and have spent more time short-handed than any other team in the league. They are second to Winnipeg in average penalty minutes per game.
With no morning skate, the Canucks line-up for tonight remains unclear. Jacob Markstrom is likely to return to the net while Alex Edler could suit up for the first time since a knee injury in Las Vegas on October 24th. Reid Boucher was recalled from Utica on Thursday and is likely to see his first NHL action of the season.
This is the Canucks third game in four nights to wrap up a California road trip. It’s also the club’s NHL-leading 17th road game of the 26 they’ve played. After tonight, the Canucks will have played 41% of their road games for the season in 32% of their overall schedule. The 17 road games already are as many as St. Louis (8) and any of Carolina, Winnipeg, LA or Anaheim combined (9).
Tonight will be Brock Boeser’s 13th game on the sideline with a nagging groin injury. That means at night’s end he will have missed as much hockey as he has played this season. Going back to last March 5th when his rookie season ended with a back injury, Boeser has missed 29 of the team’s last 42 games.
The Kings were the only team in the National Hockey League that did not see action yesterday. They have not played since a 7-3 loss at home to Colorado on Wednesday. Kyle Clifford, Matt Luff and Austin Wagner scored the LA goals while starter Cal Peterson gave up six goals before being replaced by Peter Budaj. Peterson has made four straight starts with Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell both out with injuries.
Los Angeles has the fewest wins (7), points (15), goals (43) and power play goals (8) in the league this season. A punchless power play is a huge part of the problem sitting last in the league at just 12.7% -- although it’s operating at 20% on home ice where it has scored all eight of its goals. The Kings have not scored with the man-advantage in 23 opportunities in their nine road games this season.
Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with six goals on the season while Ilya Kovalchuk is their top point producer with 5+9=14. However, Kovalchuk has gone seven games without a point. Jeff Carter has been held off the scoresheet for those same seven games.The club is 3-5 since Desjardins replaced John Stevens on November 4th.
Kings blueliner Drew Doughty leads all NHL’ers in ice time averaging 26:50 per game.
These teams will meet again on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena. That is the Canucks next game. The Kings are at home to Edmonton tomorrow night.