Canucks Game Day: Vancouver faces royal challenge in ending disappointing homestand
Winger David Booth to return to the lineup to face L.A. Kings after sitting three games as healthy scratch
VANCOUVER — Rogers Arena hasn’t exactly been home sweet home for the Vancouver Canucks this season.
The Canucks enter tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings (7 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040) having won just five of 12 home games (5-5-2) this season.
Henrik Sedin knows that has to change.
“With your fans, in your own rink where you come every day, that is where you should be good,” the Canucks captain said following this morning’s game-day skate. “I don’t think our point total matches the way we have been playing, though. I think we should have more points, but that’s the way it is right now. We need points. You look at the standings and we are a few points behind, so this is a huge game for us.”
Winger David Booth will return to the Canucks lineup for what is the finale of a six-game homestand. The Canucks have gone 1-2-2 in the previous five games.
Booth returns after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Booth said. “It has been a couple of games, you get an opportunity and now you have to do something with it.”
Booth, who is expected to replace Jeremy Welsh in the Vancouver lineup tonight, said he has been working hard on his skating.
“I think it is just my skating,” he said when asked about his struggles. “I have been off the ice for a long time, it’s just (about) feeling balanced and explosive on the ice and those take a while for me to get comfortable out there. I am working on that right now and I think it’s coming around.”
Vancouver enters tonight’s game five points behind the Kings in the Western Conference standings. The Canucks are fifth in the Pacific Division and ninth in the West, while the Kings are third in the Pacific and seventh overall in the West.
“It is November, but once you get six, seven, eight, nine points out of it, if you look at what your record needs to be compared to other teams, it’s tough to get back,” Henrik Sedin said. “Right now, we know that and we can’t think that it is too early.”
The Canucks have struggled against the top teams in the West this season. They have gone 2-5-2 against the eight teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings this season. In their lone meeting this season with the Kings on Nov. 9 at the Staples Center, the Canucks dropped a 5-1 decision.
Goals, or a lack thereof, continue to be the major concern for the Canucks. Vancouver has scored just one goal in five of its last seven games.
A power play that is tied for 28th in the NHL has been a major contributor to Vancouver’s scoring woes.
Coach John Tortorella acknowledged today the power play has become a significant concern.
“Early on I told you guys, we are getting our shots, we are getting our chances, that has dwindled a little bit as we have gone through here,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think we are shooting the puck enough and with that I don’t think we are getting enough chances … I am not going to say it isn’t a concern now.”
Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell, the former Canuck, thinks Vancouver is still a dangerous offensive team.
“There is too much offence over there,” Mitchell said. “There’s great players in Danny and Hank, Burr (Alex Burrows) is underrated and has a good touch for the net. I know he hasn’t scored as much as he’d like. You know they are going to break out. You just want to make sure it’s not against you hopefully.”
The Kings have earned at least one point in nine straight games and have not given up more than two goals in regulation in that stretch.
That is thanks in large part to goalie Ben Scrivens, who has been solid filling in for the injured Jonathan Quick. Scrivens is 5-1-3 this season with a .946 save percentage and a stingy 1.37 goals-against average.
Forward Jeff Carter is expected to play tonight for the Kings after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. He’ll likely skate on a line with Mike Richards and Dwight King.
• PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Zack Kassian, Canucks: Kassian was benched halfway through Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks and played only 4:10. He’ll be looking to climb out of coach John Tortorella’s doghouse tonight.
Dustin Brown, Kings: The Los Angeles captain has had a slow start offensively, but always seems to be a physical presence against the Canucks.
Canucks: Centre Jordan Schroeder (ankle) is out indefinitely.
Kings: The Kings are missing goalie Jonathan Quick (groin), defenceman Matt Greene (upper body) and forward Matt Frattin (lower body).
ICE CHIPS: Los Angeles back-up goalie Martin Jones is the son of Harvey Jones, vice-president of construction with the Canucks … Mike Hasenfratz and Steve Kozari are tonight’s referees … The Canucks leave Tuesday for a four-game eastern trip that makes stops in Ottawa, New York (Rangers), Carolina and Nashville.
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