After Thursday, many wondered if there was anything on this planet more offensive than the Los Angeles Kings’ official Twitter account. It would appear there is: the Vancouver Canucks’ powerplay, which generated little else but goals against Friday, and cost the team a game 2 in which they otherwise played well.
Now, let’s not panic. Sure, prior to Friday night, the Canucks had never opened a playoff series by losing the first two games at home. But, on the bright side, the Canucks have also never lost a playoff series after losing the first two games at home. So you can understand why I’m so optimistic; I watched this game!
Canucks 2 – 4 Kings
Okay, so the playoffs haven’t started all that great (especially for a guy that picked the Canucks and Penguins to meet in the Stanley Cup Final for Puck Daddy), but there are plenty of teams who dropped the first two games of a series and went on to win it. The Boston Bruins did it twice last postseason, once in the Stanley Cup Final (you might remember). Or, going a little further back, recall that the Detroit Red Wings did it to an eighth-seeded Canuck team in 2002. So there: two of the most devastating playoff losses in Canuck history featured blown 2-0 series leads. Our failures give us hope!
People are going to congratulate the LA Kings on their expert scouting of the Canucks’ powerplay, especially after Anze Kopitar intercepted a sloppy Alex Edler drop pass on the Kings’ first shorthanded goal. But let’s get real: everyone knows about the drop pass. My wife knows about the drop pass. It’s not hard to guess that the Canucks might employ the same zone entry play they’ve employed exclusively for two years. That’s like predicting that Ash Ketchum will attempt to catch ‘em all.
For what it’s worth, I found Mason Raymond’s attempt to wipe Kopitar out with a body check on that play just as bad as the Edler drop pass that preceded it. Not only did Raymond whiff, but he would have gone flying about 14 feet backwards if he hadn’t. That was never the right idea.
Man alive, did Jim Hughson ever get ripped for blowing the call on that goal. Granted, it was pretty bad. Shortly after Edler and Raymond blew it, the puck came to Dustin Brown, who fired it over a prone Roberto Luongo. Chris Tanev attempted to snatch it out of mid-air — a feat that would have been downright incredible if he had done it — but he didn’t, a fact that Hughson missed, raving about the save until Craig Simpson corrected him. But it got worse. When he got home, Hughson and his wife finally sat down to watch this week’s American Idol results show, where he ranted about the judges not saving Jessica Sanchez. 0-for-2.
Give some credit to the Canucks: they came out strong (or literally on fire, as Kevin Weekes might say) in all three periods, even creating a game-tying goal 17 seconds out of the first intermission. Great job by Henrik Sedin to corral the loose puck at the top of the zone and send it in front to Jannik Hansen in one fell swoop. Equally great job by Hansen to rappel down from the rafters, take out two security guards with karate chops, then nunchuk the puck up and over Johnny Quick’s stick and into the goal. Classic Danish ninja.
I’ve said this before, but the real problem with the powerplay right now is that it’s designed for two Sedins; Henrik misses his brother like crazy. It’s not just on the man advantage, either. There was one shift in particular where the captain darted back and forth behind the net, seemingly in the hopes that Daniel would magically appear to him like a Force Ghost. Sadly, Daniel never did, and Henrik had to console himself after the game by listening to some Elton John.
Roberto Luongo has been the Canucks’ best player bar none through the first leg of this series. Still, I’m okay with going to Schneider for game 3 for two reasons: first, because he might shake things up, and second, because if he doesn’t, maybe everyone will shut the Hell up about it.
Alex Edler, on the other hand, has been the Canucks’ worst player. I don’t know what it is about him, but he becomes so jittery in the postseason. Friday, he coughed up more pucks than a kid that ate a bunch of pucks.
The only thing on the backend worse than Alex Edler’s play: the Captain Planet of terrible that gets summoned when Keith Ballard and Kevin Bieksa unite. That was the two of them diving all over the crease like a couple of buffoons on the Kings’ 4-1 goal. Oliver Stone could remake Natural Born Killers with these two in the lead roles, that’s how horrible they are for one another.
I chuckled when Trevor Lewis gave Luongo a snow shower and the Rogers Arena crowd went nuts, thinking it should be a penalty. Frankly, I thought Ryan Kesler’s snow shower from Thursday shouldn’t have been a penalty, but this one wasn’t even close to the level of that one. Heck, Lewis’s hard stop was such a light dusting of snow that Bruce Garrioch claimed it wasn’t Canadian.
I’m so very tired of the green men, but their set piece with the picture frame and the both of them in posing in blazers was excellent.
It didn’t mean much, but Samme Pahlsson got a late one to cut the lead to 4-2 while playing on a blended line with Zack Kassian and Mason Raymond. The goal came after Mike Richards batted a Keith Ballard point shot out of mid-air, only to wind up dropping it in front of Pahlsson’s stick. It was the only gloved punch Richards didn’t get away with.
For what it’s worth, the Canucks outplayed the Kings tonight at even-strength. They outshot the Kings 48 to 27, outchanced them, outhit them, and outworked them. If they play like that again in Game 3, minus the garbage barge powerplay, they’ll be just fine.
One forward who was decisively not good for the Canucks tonight: David Booth. He was throwing the body around fantastically, but he often sacrificed possession of the puck to do so, and was only one of two Canuck forwards to finish the night without a shot on goal. The other was Manny Malhotra, who does other things. Booth really does just one thing. He can’t have zero shots. More than likely, that will lead to zero goals.
On the flipside, linemate Ryan Kesler was doing everything. He looked excellent, with 6 shots, 3 hits, 4 takeaways, a blocked shot, and 13 of 25 faceoffs, including 7 of 11 in the offensive zone. The dude filled up the sheet like he was dressing like a ghost for Halloween.
And finally, do I think the Canucks are down 2-0 because the Kings just want it more? No, because I’m not a bonehead.
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