Daily News Kings focused forward as they face Canucks in potential playoff preview


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
For the Kings, it has been so far, so fine as they’ve won the first two decisions of their three-games-in-four-nights stretch, which will conclude Saturday.

Trevor Moore’s hat trick on Wednesday and two goals in 18 seconds on Thursday gave the Kings a pair of victories, both against less competitive clubs, that all but assured their spot in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Saturday night, they could be in for a postseason preview when they welcome the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks.

Akil Thomas’ first career goal in the first period stood as the game-winner in a 2-1 win over oh-so-lowly San Jose. The Kings’ early and ephemeral outburst proved enough to lift them a commanding seven points above the St. Louis Blues with six games to play. That, along with Wednesday’s 5-2 win against struggling Seattle, all but decided the wild-card race, essentially cementing a third straight playoff berth for the Kings.

The Blues lost on Thursday, 6-3, to the Nashville Predators, but at least one King said he was entirely unaware of their fate, with Pierre Luc-Dubois eschewing any late-season scoreboard surveillance.

“At this time of the year, especially when we’re in that spot right now, it’s ours to lose and you don’t want to be looking behind, you want to be looking ahead,” Dubois said. “It’s not a switch you turn on for the playoffs. It’s this race, it’s this mindset that goes until the end of the year. Then, once the playoffs start, you’re where you want to be.”

Dubois registered a secondary assist on Thomas’ goal, giving him four assists in his last two games and 11 points in his past 11 outings. Simultaneously, Gabriel Vilardi, the centerpiece of the trade package to Winnipeg that was swapped for Dubois, netted a hat trick against Calgary on Thursday.

Dubois and associates will now turn their attention to Vancouver, which trails the Central Division-topping Dallas Stars by three points for the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference. Whether they leapfrog Dallas or not, as long as the Canucks remain atop the Pacific (they have a seven-point lead over Edmonton, which has two games in hand on Vancouver) they could be the Kings’ opponent in a first-round series. The Kings are just one point behind the first wild-card slot’s owners, Nashville, and either of those two berths would set up a matchup with a division champion.

Though the Kings’ signature wins against the West’s best have been few and far between – they’ve prevailed just seven times against the other seven playoff-bound squads – they’ve beaten Vancouver twice and taken them to overtime in a third meeting. The Canucks are the only club in that group whom the Kings have not lost to in regulation and the only one against whom they have a winning record this season.

Related Articles​

They’ve split four games since a 3-2 loss to the Kings on March 25, in step with their 5-4-1 record since a March 9 victory during which franchise goalie and San Diego native Thatcher Demko sustained a lower-body injury. Technically, Demko would be eligible to return on Saturday, but he should be considered doubtful against the Kings. Canucks coach Rick Tocchet did tell reporters earlier this week that Demko was expected back before the end of the regular season.

Forward Brock Boeser has racked up 16 goals and 22 points in 19 career clashes with the Kings, including two goals and three points in three meetings this season.

Vancouver at Kings​

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Crypto.com Arena

TV: Bally Sports SoCal

Continue reading...