I always enjoy the atmosphere the Staples Centre brings to a telecast. It’s a boisterous enemy area. But if there’s one thing I still can’t handle about the Canucks’ visits to LA, it’s that execrable, heinous bumper video in which South Park sociopath Eric Cartman screams “Go Kings go!” over and over and over. It’s the worst. “Chelsea Dagger” is “Strawberry Fields Forever” compared to that thing. If you’ve ever read Hamlet, and wondered how, exactly, one perpetrates an ear poisoning, wonder no more. Seriously. You could commit regicide with this video.
Speaking of regicide, the Canucks did their best to off the Kings on Monday night, if by “did their best” you mean played badly, but were fortunate to have Roberto Luongo in goal. However, while they were fortunate in this sense, they were unfortunate in the sense that Luongo’s incredible play wasn’t quite enough to overcome their mediocre play — which, if you watched Luongo’s performance, should make clear how truly mediocre their play was. It was clear to me, because I watched this game.
Luongo’s reward for his best game of the season? A shootout. He did well for himself, too, stopping 2 of 3. Unfortunately, none of the Canucks scored, so way to not be clutch as usual, Luongo.
For the third time this season, the Canucks managed to blow a two-goal lead. There’s a reason they call it the worst lead in hockey, although I’d argue an even worse lead is being down by six.
Hockey bloggers know “Down Goes Brown” as one of the most consistent and engaging voices in sports comedy writing. Hockey watchers know it as the LA Kings’ Plan A for drawing a penalty. But while he’s one of hockey’s worst divers, he’s also its best, because, despite all the flopping, he still tends to get the benefit of the doubt. Seriously. Remember that time he drank out of the water bottle the wrong way? The water bottle got two for instigating.
Brown also sold a Chris Tanev high-sticking call that occurred as Tanev was falling onto his backside in the Canucks’ crease, but I wasn’t quite as annoyed by that as I was when I noticed that NHL.com writes “high-sticking” as “hi-sticking”. Come on, NHL. Spelling “high” that way is for fruit punch.
Anyway. Everybody hates a diver, but you have to appreciate how good Brown is at it. It’s impressive, especially when juxtaposed with bad diving, like Anze Kopitar’s brutal acting at the tail end of a Canucks’ powerplay midway through the third. The refs didn’t buy it, largely because it was about as convincing as Keanu Reeves’ British accent in Dracula.
The Canucks were awful in the faceoff circle early this game. They lost 7 of 8 defensive zone faceoffs in the first. Luckily, they got a lot of immediate practice, spending most of the game taking defensive zone faceoffs, and they improved as the game went on, eventually getting their faceoff win percentage closer to 50%. But they were downright lucky they were still in the game by then, because there are two places where being that bad on draws typically means you’re finished quickly: versus an elite hockey team and while playing Hogan’s Alley.
Further evidence of why faceoffs matter: Henrik Sedin went 0-for 5 at the dot versus Anze Kopitar through the first 50 minutes of this game, but it’s worth noting that he lined up against Kopitar not five times during this stretch, but six. On the sixth, Kopitar was thrown out of the circle. Here’s what happened: it forced Dustin Brown to come in and take the draw in his stead. He lost it clean, as Henrik drew the puck back to Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis fed Alex Edler, who one-timed it, but the puck never reached Quick. Instead, it bounced to Zack Kassian, who was camped at the side of the net (and camped is the correct word here, since Kassian always look like he’s spent the last four days in the wilderness). Before Quick could get over, Kassian put the Canucks on the board like the board and the Canucks were both made of felt.
That wasn’t the only time Quick was beaten to the post, as Alex Burrows extended the Canucks’ lead to two with a surprise wraparound in the second. It was a race to the post, much like what you see in the Trades, Rumours, Signings subform of the Canucks.com message board after a player acquisition. The difference was that Burrows’s goal didn’t result in 10 identical threads.
Burrows was the goal-scorer, but a lot of the credit on that goal goes to his linemate Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins. They worked together well in this game, registering 4 shots apiece, and they did some nice work together on the goal. Higgins caused the turnover that started the sequence, then he got Jonathan Quick looking the wrong way by shading out to the near post while Burrows went far. Quick needs to brush up on his nears and fars. Grover can help.
Burrows wasn’t quite as good during the shootout, trying out a new move where he goes forehand instead of backhand. But it’s not just the same move to the other hand. Burrows only goes forehand after coming in wide, doing a spin, stopping time, making a sandwich, voting, then making one final deke and shooting. It needs some work.
Chris Cuthbert is hockey’s best play-by-play man. Proof? Just after Chris Tanev took a high-sticking penalty, the camera found Pat Sajak sitting near the glass. “The Kings’ powerplay has not been a wheel of fortune.” I imagine he has a list of lines for any game show host that might be in attendance. If it had been Alex Trebek, he’d have said, “The Kings’ powerplay has been in jeopardy.” If it had been Chuck Woolery: “The Kings would love a connection on their powerplay. Regis Philbin: “The Kings are hoping their powerplay can be the final answer. Anne Robinson? “The Kings’ powerplay has been their weakest link.” Bob Eubanks, host of the Newlywed Game? “The Kings are looking to make whoopee on this powerplay.”
Mason Raymond has been a different player this season, but if you missed the old, familiar MayRay, you got to see him in overtime. He had the best chance of the extra frame, with a puck sitting on the doorstep and Jonathan Quick out of position, but instead of shovelling it home, he was checked, and then he fell down. I’d have been upset if it didn’t make me feel so nostalgic.
Via Jeff Paterson, the Canucks had just 7 shots through the final 36 minutes. You’d think they had volunteered to be the designated driver.
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