In another lost season for Vancouver Canucks, it’s once again become about the youth. But how much will youth really get served in Vancouver?
The newly-acquired Nikolay Goldobin will make his Canucks debut tonight. Reports coming out of the morning skate state that Goldobin will begin his Canucks career on the third line. Here was Willie Desjardins’ reasoning for the placement.
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) March 4, 2017
It’s reasonable to limit his minutes. He’s only 21-years-old, with 11 games on NHL experience playing on a new team. But for Desjardins to say he doesn’t want to “disrupt” the top two lines, speaking as if this team is a well-oiled machine, is preposterous.
Sven Baertschi looked good with Bo Horvat in his return, but winger Loui Eriksson has looked out of place. He is without an even-strength point in 17 games. The Sedins and Granlund have been quietly productive over the last ten games, but they were nowhere to be found during the Canucks 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
— NHL (@NHL) March 4, 2017
While the Canucks enter spoiler mode, the Los Angeles Kings are fighting for their playoff lives. However, they haven’t made a big push recently, and their time is now if they want to firmly plant themselves in the playoffs. The Kings are 6-6-2 since the beginning of February. That complacency has allowed the red-hot Calgary Flames to open up a six-point lead on them for the first wildcard spot.
Luckily for the Kings, the St. Louis Blues have lost five in a row, basically gifting the middling Kings the final playoff spot. Maybe it’s a better spot for the Kings, who would play the San Jose Sharks if the playoffs started today, instead of the conference-leading Minnesota Wild.
Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings
Saturday, March 4, Staples Center, 7:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast Channels: SN, FS-W
2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 22 – Canucks 3 – Kings 4 (SO), Dec. 28 – Kings 1 – Canucks 2
Vancouver Canucks: 26-30-7, 59 Points, 12th in Western Conference
Hot Players: Daniel Sedin (5 points in last 6 GP)
Key Injuries: Jacob Markstrom, Erik Gudbranson, Derek Dorsett, Anton Rodin, Jack Skille, Nikita Tryamkin (mumps)
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Markus Granlund
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Loui Eriksson
Nikolay Goldobin – Brandon Sutter – Jayson Megna
Brendan Gaunce – Michael Chaput – Joseph Cramarossa
Alex Edler – Troy Stecher
Luca Sbisa – Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton – Philip Larsen
Los Angeles Kings: 31-27-6, 68 Points, 8th in Western Conference
Hot Players: Tanner Pearson (14 points in last 12 GP), Anze Kopitar (4 points last 4 GP)
Key Injuries: Jordan Nolan, Matt Greene
Jarome Iginla – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis – Nick Shore – Dustin Brown
Adrian Kemp – Nic Dowd – Kyle Clifford
Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Paul LaDue
Brayden McNabb – Alec Martinez
1) Desjardins continues to make head-scratching decisions leading up to tonight’s game. This time, the victim is Reid Boucher. The 23-year-old played 18:32 and had the game-tying goal – his first as a Canuck – on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings. The next game? He played 7:50 in a fourth line role. Based on the morning skate, it looks like he will sit this game out.
Reid Boucher with the highest CF60 & CA60 on the #Canucks. He deserves a longer look in the top six.
— Trevor Beggs (@BeggsTHW) March 2, 2017
2) What’s the logic behind this decision? As a waiver pick-up, Boucher is behind more trusted players in Desjardin’s eyes, such as Michael Chaput and Jayson Megna. Now, even Joseph Cramarossa is getting a look ahead of Boucher. For a team that registers the lowest shot total in the league, why is Desjardins sitting a potential offensive weapon, especially after his performance in Detroit?
3) The Canucks will get their first look at the two new players in the Kings lineup: Jarome Iginla and Ben Bishop. Bishop was solid in his first matchup, although his team dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime to the Flames. The Canucks lit up Bishop in their last game against him. Bishop let in four goals on 20 shots when the Canucks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on December 8th.
It’s unfortunate that Iginla couldn’t end up with a team who has more legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations. The Kings aren’t even a lock to make the playoffs at this point. If they do indeed miss the postseason, it could be a disappointing end to an incredible career for Iginla.
We are undefeated when a #lakings player is wearing the #88
— Bailey LA Kings (@BaileyLAKings) March 3, 2017
4) Tanner Pearson adds a much-needed offensive punch to a low-scoring Kings team. Pearson is second on the Kings in both goals and points, trailing only Jeff Carter. He has six points in his last four games, and has scored in three straight games leading into tonight’s contest.
5) Pearson was drafted 30th overall by the Kings in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Any idea who the Canucks drafted five spots ahead at 26th overall? Brendan Gaunce, who has no goals and five assists through 53 games this season. He has been defensively responsible for the Canucks, but the Canucks sure could use someone with an offensive punch, like Pearson.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) March 4, 2017
6) The Canucks are hoping Goldobin can provide that offensive punch that’s desperately missing on this team. Don’t expect too much from the rookie early on, especially while playing on a line with Brandon Sutter and Megna. Despite Desjardins’ questionable lineup decisions, he has had success with youngsters such as Baertschi, Horvat, Troy Stecher, and Nikita Tryamkin. He’ll get another opportunity to prove he can get through to young players with Goldobin joining the team.