For the Vancouver Canucks, two straight wins over the Los Angeles Kings have made the prospect of a first-round match-up versus the defending champions seem a little less daunting.
Not easy or enticing, mind you — just a little less daunting.
“Last year, we were nowhere close to competing with them,” Canucks forward Alex Burrows said after last night’s 2-1 shootout victory. “They were just overpowering us. Their work ethic, their system, we didn’t really have any answers. I find this year, rolling four lines, rolling everybody, getting more pucks on net, skating a bit more, it helps us a lot.
“They’re still a really good team. They’re Stanley Cup champs for a reason. But we found a way the last few times.”
The Canucks also defeated the Kings, 4-1, on March 21, outshooting them 42-26 at Staples Center. Last night, they outshot them 38-37.
Those shot totals are encouraging for Vancouver, given no team surrenders fewer shots on average than the Kings (27.2). Heck, the Colorado Avalanche only managed 10 Saturday at Staples.
According to Sports Club Stats, there’s a 37.6 percent chance of a Canucks-Kings first-round series. The most likely Vancouver opponent is Calgary (61.9 percent).