It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas; the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Wednesday night, the Canucks will begin their potential road to the possibility of hopeful victory. As you might be able to tell, I’m hedging my bets. After last season ended in such bitter disappointment, I’m downgrading my raging-over-the-top optimism to cautious optimism.
The Canucks’ first round opponents are the Los Angeles Kings – who are bad – by virtue (or vice) of losing to the San Jose Sharks on the final day of the season. Considering the Canucks went 3-0-1 against the Sharks and 2-1-1 against the Kings, the Sharks likely would have been a better matchup.
But what were those regular season games really like? We can look back at the boxscore and statistics in order to remember, but that only gives us a partial picture. If only someone watched those games and recorded what they thought about them in an easy to digest, quippy, point-form manner.
Oh wait! We watched those games!
Canucks 3 – 2 Kings
This IWTG seems like a relic from a bygone era: the banner at the top had green in it and featured Tanner Glass. Aaron Rome was on a goal-scoring streak. The victory put the Canucks just a game over .500. And it contained a reference to the Salo is Your Pal-O T-Shirt Design Contest, for which Harrison has still not posted the results. Clearly, it was a dark and confusing time.
Daniel Sedin was also on pace for 103 points at the time. That didn’t quite work out.
Sami Salo opened the scoring on the powerplay, then Andrew Ebbett extended the lead, also on the powerplay. That may sound odd, but Ebbett has received some powerplay time on the second unit of late and, depending on how the series goes, that may occur again. Still in the first period, Aaron Rome made it 3-0, and the Canucks hung on through the rest of the game for the win.
The real highlight, however, was Jannik Hansen losing his stick, picking it up by the blade, and making a pass to Henrik Sedin through Kyle Clifford’s legs with the butt end of the stick. It was incroyable.
Selected quip: Regarding Dale Weise’s new hair cut:
I suspect that, after getting used to penny-pinching on an AHL salary, Weise said he went to a barber, but, to save money, he actually cut his own hair. While riding a roller coaster.
Canucks 1 – 4 Kings
In the intro to this IWTG, I warned against attending Canucks games on the eve of holidays, as they seemed to turn out poorly. The Canucks proceeded to win each game that I warned against watching, so my theory was shot.
Re-reading this IWTG, I can tell that I really, really hated the Canucks’ performance, and for good reason. Other than the wizardous opening goal seen above, the Canucks were outplayed by the Kings and only a stellar performance by Luongo kept them in the game early. It didn’t last, however, as the relentless pressure led to the tying goal in the first, two more in the second, and a fourth in the third. Also, who’s on first.
The Kings made Henrik Sedin a target of several cheap shots, including a hit after a Kings goal and a slewfoot/crosscheck combo from Brad Richards and Dustin Brown. You can be assured that will be part of the Kings’ gameplan in the playoffs as well. What actually won them the game, however, was their aggressive forecheck and speed through the neutral zone. The Canucks, playing their third game in four nights, got caught standing still far too often.
Selected quip: Regarding the Canucks opening goal:
It was the first shot of the game and, as is usually the case with the first shot on New Year’s Eve, everything appeared to be just fine. It was only afterwards that things started spinning out of control.
Canucks 2 – 3 Kings (SO)
If it was clear in the last IWTG that I didn’t like how the Canucks played, it was really, really clear in this one. The Canucks were terrible in the first period and were only marginally better through the rest of the game. This time, Roberto Luongo stole a point for the Canucks, making 39 saves to ensure the game got to overtime.
Once again, the aggressive forecheck of the Kings gave the Canucks conniptions, stalling their breakout and causing turnovers. Crisp passing out of the defensive end will be a key to this playoff series.
The Canucks managed to tie the game twice after going down by one, not allowing the Kings to get a two-goal lead. David Booth scored the first on a ridiculous pass by Jannik Hansen, whose passing ability is still underrated amongst Canucks fans. Daniel Sedin scored the second one with an incredible wrist shot. It is very, very good news that he’ll be back.
Selected quip: Regarding a particularly old-school fight:
Also old-school: Darryl Sutter’s suit. And his face.
Canucks 1 – 0 Kings
It’s likely that this game is still fresh in your memory, as it was just a couple weeks ago. In case you don’t recall, Manny Malhotra scored a weak goal with a strong shot, Maxim Lapierre made a funny face, Luongo was incredible, the powerplay was terrible, and Jeff Carter was invisible.
It was also the game where we really started to noticed that Chris Tanev seems to be more effective in the top-four than Sami Salo, which simultaneously made us sad and excited. That said, the playoffs are simultaneously a whole ‘nother kettle of fish and ball of wax, and Salo will certainly play a large role.
It seems likely that this kind of low-scoring, goaltenders duel will be common in the first round of the playoffs. So what’s the protocol? Do the goaltenders meet at centre ice and slap each other with their catching gloves to indicate a challenge to a duel?
Selected quip: Regarding Luongo’s shutout:
He was such an Italian wall in this game that it was a wonder he wasn’t covered with lizards.
Tags: Canucks, I Watched This Game, Kings, Playoff Preview