The Canucks' Three Mouthketeers

Canucks forwards Maxim Lapierre (left), Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler (not shown) have been paired...

Canucks forwards Maxim Lapierre (left), Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler (not shown) have been paired up on the team's second line. (BEN NELMS/Reuters file photo)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:20 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Alain Vigneault expects his newly created second line to make some noise.

Just not with their mouths.

The Vancouver Canucks coach put together a second line of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre in anticipation of his team's do-or-die game Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings.

All three have a less-than-flattering reputation for yapping too much on the ice, but Vigneault said two of the three don’t deserve it and the other had best zip his lips better than ever before.

“Ryan and Alex just play the game. They rarely, at any point this year, have shown that aspect in their game,” Vigneault said after Saturday’s practice. “They toned it down last year, played whistle to whistle. That (reputation is) externally driven, and they’ve shown it on the ice.

“Max, on the other hand, has done it on a couple of occasions, and he’s been told to shut up and play.

“That’s what we expect of him.”

The Canucks currently trail the best-of-seven opening-round NHL playoff series 3-1, so they need that trio to drive the Kings bonkers with their play, not their mouths.

Can they just walk the walk and not talk the talk?

“It’s in the back of our minds, we have to keep our emotions in check and just play between the whistles. When all three of us do it, we’re pretty effective,” Kesler said. “I’ve had years of practice (not yapping). Sometimes it slips out, but I’m good at keeping my emotions in check.”

Still, even when on their best behaviour, those three will do something to annoy their opposition. Even teammates expect it in some manner.

“I play against them everyday in practice. It’s a good line for us,” defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. “They definitely can get in on the forecheck, probably easy to dislike if you’re the other team. They had a good game for us the last game. Three guys that can be effective for us and that we definitely need to play well to win.”

You know that trio will — as Lapierre said — “bring energy, have a strong forecheck, bring traffic to the front of the net,” but at this point the Canucks need more than just doing the “little things” properly.

They need results, and that means somebody has to make a difference.

Having the Sedin brothers back healthy and playing together should help Vancouver’s cause, but the Kings’ top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams is just as capable of turning a game in their favour.

Kesler’s line simply must out-perform the Kings' second trio of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dwight King.

“At this point, we need guys to become key, clutch performers,” Vigneault said. “We got that from Schneids (goalie Cory Schneider) last game and got it from a couple of other guys. If we want to our season to continue, we’re going to need more guys doing that also.”

Who knows, if the Canucks' new second line — being dubbed the Three Mouthketeers among other nicknames here in Vancouver — can produce without any antics, maybe that negative reputation will subside and the Canucks won’t be Canada’s most hated team.

“We’re a team that has won a lot of games the last couple of years, and people like the underdogs, so that’s fine with us,” Burrows mused. “Right now we’re an underdog, and hopefully they like us.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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