VANCOUVER - With the playoffs just around the corner, one final test remains for the Canucks, in the form of the L.A. Kings.
Granted, Vancouver has five games left in the regular season but the final four matchups consists of teams currently out of a postseason position.
They face the league bottom-feeders Edmonton Oilers twice, the 11th-seeded Minnesota Wild once, and the Calgary Flames, who are on the outside of the playoffs looking in Ė three Northwest Division teams who the Canucks have a combined 11-2-1 record against this season. If Vancouver can clinch the President's Trophy in the next two games, there's a chance for them to rest several of their players prior to the playoffs.
The Kings, meanwhile, are fifth in the West and are on a four-game win streak, despite losing their top two forwards in a six-day span.
First, winger Justin Williams suffered a dislocated shoulder and is expected to be out three to four weeks. Then team-leading scorer Anze Kopitar tore ligaments in his ankle, requiring season-ending surgery.
The roster losses, unfortunately, come at a time when L.A. is fighting to secure a playoff spot for the second straight season. But then again, injuries are part of the game. Just ask the Canucks, who had a well-deserved team day off Wednesday after sweeping their four-game road trip.
On Thursday at Rogers Arena, they'll look to extend their franchise records in points and wins, and maybe get a final feel for a playoff-like game before the real thing.