Prat's Preview: Canucks Look For Berth/Sweep Against Kings

PratContributor IApril 1, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29:  Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates against the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center on October 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings were once at the top of the Western Conference standings. Right now though, they're just worrying about getting into the playoffs. LA are another struggling team in the West's top 8 which is desperate for a win, and it won't come easy playing the Canucks.

Vancouver, on the other hand, is looking for a playoff berth, being 9 points up on Calgary, which has 5 games left to play. The Northwest crown is almost certainly theirs, considering Colorado's recent difficulties, so the Canucks will look to keep pace with Chicago in hopes of capturing 2nd place in the West. They are also 3-0-0 against the Kings this year, and will be looking to sweep LA on home ice.

The good news for the Canucks, who are .500 on the road, is that the Kings have the fewest wins at home of any Western Conference team in the top 8. Another huge advantage the Canucks have, against almost every team these days, seems to be their goal scoring prowess. Vancouver has six 20 goal scorers while LA only has 2, and with Luongo facing Bernier (who has only played 2 games this season), this shouldn't be a hard game to win.

Vancouver simply has to stick to a simple game plan. Get shots on net, and get people in front of Bernier, who has a 2-0-0 record with a .984 save percentage this season. Their first line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows has accounted for more than a third of Vancouver's offense at 36% and all 3 have been hot as of late, combining for 6 points against Phoenix on Tuesday. Luongo will also be looking to continue his solid play, to gain more confidence. No goalie wants to go into the post-season with inconsistent starts.

On the news front, the Canucks were glad to hear yesterday that Demitra, Bernier and Samuelsson are all close to returning to the line-up. This will be a boost to the offense once the playoffs start. Shane O'Brien is also expected back by Sunday. The LA Kings are still having goalie issues, with Erik Ersberg out day-to-day with a back injury.

To win this one, Vancouver will have to make sure they shut down Kopitar, along with the first 2 LA lines. Vancouver will have to play a more Detroit-type puck possession game against the Kings in order to have success. They'll also have to keep a close watch on Drew Doughty, who stands 2nd in team scoring behind Kopitar with 54 points.

Face-off is a late 7:30pm Pacific, so sit back and enjoy. We'll know by the end of today where both teams' hopes lie concerning the playoffs.