Kings To Face Inury-Riddled Canucks Thursday

BY foxsports • October 29, 2009

By Nicolina Dibendedetto, STATS


Injuries are mounting for the Vancouver Canucks, and losing goaltender
Roberto Luongo for at least two games might be the biggest blow. Facing
the surprising Los Angeles Kings won't help either.

The Canucks look to withstand a growing list of absences Thursday night when they visit Los Angeles.


Vancouver (6-6-0) has eight players out with injuries, including
Luongo, who will miss at least the next two games due to a hairline
fracture in one of his ribs.

The All-Star
suffered the injury during Saturday's 3-1 win over Toronto, when a shot
from the corner caught him through a soft spot in his padding. He
played through the injury, making 27 saves in a 2-0 win over Edmonton
the following night, but aggravated it Tuesday while facing 42 shots
and giving up five third-period goals in a 5-4 loss to Detroit.


"I am stubborn so I don't know," Luongo said about the possibility of
an early return. "Thankfully, I dealt with this a couple of years ago.
It's almost the same injury and I know more or less what the timeline
is and how you feel on a day-to-day basis.


"There is no definite timeline because it's really about the amount of
pain that you've got there. I'm definitely not playing the next two
games, so we'll see after that."

The
Canucks, who visit Anaheim on Friday, certainly didn't fare well
without Luongo last season, going 12-14-3 as he missed most of those
games with a groin injury.

Backup Andrew
Raycroft, who has allowed one goal in 52 minutes over two games when
Luongo was pulled by coach Alain Vigneault, will get his first start
Thursday. The Canucks also recalled Cory Schneider from their AHL
affiliate to serve as the backup.

Raycroft
went 12-16-0 with a 3.14 goals-against average in 31 games with
Colorado last season before signing with Vancouver in July. He's lost
his last three games against the Kings (8-4-1), posting a 6.86 GAA.


The Canucks' injuries took a scary turn in the second period Tuesday
when center Ryan Johnson was carried off the ice on a stretcher after
sliding headfirst into the end boards. He was taken to a hospital for
further observation, though a team spokesperson said he was alert and
had full movement.

Johnson was placed on
injured reserve Wednesday, joining left wing Daniel Sedin (foot),
defenseman Sami Salo (knee), right wing Jannik Hansen (hand) and center
Pavol Demitra (rotator cuff) on IR. Centers Kyle Wellwood (toe) and
Rick Rypien (groin) are both considered day-to-day.

The Canucks took three of four meetings from the Kings last season, splitting two games at Staples Center.

Los Angeles is looking to rebound from Wednesday's 2-1 shootout loss at San Jose that snapped a four-game winning streak.


"When you get to the shootout it's like a lottery and you saw that
(Wednesday)," said center Anze Kopitar, who didn't factor in the
scoring against the Sharks and failed to convert in the tiebreaker. "We
had our chances to put it away but everybody seemed to be bobbling the
puck and couldn't put it in."

Despite that
loss, the Kings are tied with San Jose - the reigning Presidents'
Trophy winner - for first place in the Pacific Division. That's a vast
improvement after Los Angeles finished tied with Phoenix at the bottom
of the division last season.

Kopitar leads
the NHL with 21 points and his 10 goals tie him for second with San
Jose's Patrick Marleau and Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers, one
back of Washington's Alex Ovechkin.

Kopitar has one goal and three assists in his last six games against Vancouver.


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