Los Angeles Kings vs Vancouver Canucks: Two Teams Headed in Opposite Directions

Two weeks ago, the Vancouver Canucks were riding high on a six-game unbeaten streak while the Los Angeles Kings were floundering, out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.

With their second meeting of the season looming on Saturday night at Rogers Arena, the tide has turned. Heading into Wednesday's game against Detroit, the Kings are currently on a four-game winning streak that has pushed them to within one point of a playoff spot, with games in hand on their rivals. Meanwhile, the Canucks returned home from a tough road trip to lose their second consecutive game on Tuesday and look like they could be facing their first real stretch of adversity.

Normally defensively stingy, Vancouver has given up 12 goals in its last two games—coincidentally, the same two games that top-pairing blueliner Kevin Bieksa has been out of the lineup with a groin injury.

To make matters worse, both so-called elite goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider have been only average in their recent outings, a situation that made Schneider call himself out after Tuesday's game. "I have to be better, I have to find a way to get back down to one, two goals a game like we're used to and the team plays well enough to do, and right now it's just not happening and I have to figure out why," Schneider told Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun.

Now, the Canucks get word that Ryan Kesler is out with a fractured foot and could be shelved for four to six weeks. Apparently, Kesler suffered the injury blocking a shot in Dallas on February 21 but it wasn't diagnosed until a CT scan on February 27 (per Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun).

Rookie Jordan Schroeder has proved to be a capable replacement as a second-line center, but he's not the 40-goal-scoring, Selke-trophy-winning, prime-time Kesler that the Canucks were hoping to have back in their lineup. With defensive center Manny Malhotra now shut down, Andrew Ebbett is bein...

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