VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks will debut a second line tonight that will do nothing for its reputation as one of the National Hockey League’s most verbally active (read: yappy) teams.
Ryan Kesler between Alex Burrows and Max Lapierre. Their assignment? Make more noise on the score sheet than in the Los Angeles Kings’ ears, with the Canucks out of lifelines in this western Conference quarter-final series.
"Ryan and Alex rarely at any point have shown that aspect — they toned it down last year and that’s externally driven," said head coach Alain Vigneault.
Translation: "We told them to quit yapping and they have complied."
On the other hand …
"Max has done it on a couple of occasions and has been told to shut up and play. And that’s what we expect from him," said Vigneault.
Vigneault’s count of "a couple of times" is generous. Lapierre is truly the mouth that roared, seemingly unable to skate to the bench at shifts end without jabbering at an opponent.
Why this line combo, at this point in the series?
"All three of those guys, in my mind, are really hard workers. This is a really tough series, two teams working extremely hard," Vigneault said. "With Alex, Ryan and Max, with the different skill set each one brings … I’m hoping that they’ll be able to contribute to a successful night."
Support scoring is an issue for Vancouver in this series. Burrows (one goal), Kesler (no goals) and Lapierre (no goals) will be expected to change those numbers in Game 5 tonight.
Pretty Tame Series
While other first round matchups have provided NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan with a parade to his office door, this one has been mighty calm. Few big hits, zero dirty ones, not much scoring. We’ve scarcely heard Sherriff Shanny referred to in this series.
Compared to Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, is this Kings-Canucks series is back page material? Henrik Sedin doesn’t think so.
"We’re playing the way hockey should be played," the Canucks captain said. "The (Dustin) Brown hit on me was hard but clean.
"It’s going to be a defensive series, but myself, I would rather watch this series than a lot of other ones."
As Canucks fans get used to the fact that Cory Schneider has usurped Roberto Luongo as the Canucks’ No. 1, they’ll now see him start in home blues as opposed to road whites.
Tonight will be Schneider’s first NHL playoff start at home, after going in Chicago once last season and in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center in this series.
"It doesn’t change much," said the polite and well spoken Marblehead, Mass. native. "Hopefully, if anything, we’ll come out better as a team than we did last game and have a better start and feed off the energy of the crowd. It doesn’t really matter much to me, home or away."
Of course, it is all relative when it comes to playing on home ice. If things go well for the Canucks, the home support will help. If the Kings pump a few past Schneider, well, folks at Rogers Arena booed his predecessor pretty heavily at times, remember.
"I think we’re just having fun," Schneider said Sunday at a sparsely attended morning skate. "We’re enjoying it. We played well the last two games but only got one win out of it. Winning Game 4 was big, it was a chance to come home and maybe extend the series.
"We’re not thinking of it as a do or die game. We just need to win this game. We’ve won a lot of games throughout the year so we’re just going to do the same things we’ve always done."