The Vancouver Canucks are on track to finish with the best record in the Western Conference, a point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche and ahead of their two-game playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets.
But a series loss on Thursday to the Winnipeg Moose and a fourth-period loss to the Calgary Flames in Game 5 would send them to the back of the Stanley Cup playoff pack.
Canucks coach John Tortorella said Thursday that he would like to see his team improve the way it played in its three losses in the series.
He also indicated that he could change his coaching staff after Friday’s practice.
“You’re not going to be able to tell me what I can do for the team,” Tortorela said.
“You’re going to have to look at how we can be better, better on the ice and better in the locker room.
I think you can look at our guys, and the team I know, that’s a group that has done very well.”
Tortorella has had success in the past.
The Canucks went 32-10-4 in their first season under him after winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2012-13 and posting the best mark in the NHL.
But this is a season of uncertainty, with several of his top assistants leaving and his contract expiring.
The team is currently 11th in the standings, two points behind the Winnipeg Sabres and three behind the Anaheim Ducks.
The Canucks’ biggest question heading into this series is whether goaltender Jannik Hansen can be their starting goaltender for the second consecutive game.
Hansen played in each of Vancouver’s first four games after he suffered a left Achilles tendon injury in Game 4.
He’s been a strong goalie for the Canucks since the beginning of the season.
The other question is what the team will do in its final five games of the regular season.
The Kings have the best chance of winning the Stanley, but the Canucks are in a similar position to the Kings.
They’re in the middle of the pack, but with a few games to go, they could be playing for the Cup.
“It’s very difficult to look ahead to the end of the year, because there’s a lot of games left in the regular-season schedule, so you don’t want to overplay your hand and give too much away,” Tortorre said.
The Kings and Canucks play Friday in Los Angeles, where the Kings are 4-3-1.
They then play the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Sunday in Edmonton.
The Coyotes are 11-2-0, but have a series sweep at Winnipeg on Saturday and a loss to Calgary on Monday.