On one hand, Alain Vigneault has to be frustrated by the Canucks’ continued struggle to ice something resembling a competitive lineup. Thursday night, the club was so shorthanded they were forced to deploy Keith Ballard as a top-nine forward, and somehow they managed to lose another key component in that one after Alex Edler was suspended two games for colliding with Mike “I step in front of cars and sue the drivers” Smith.
But on the other hand, the shorthandedness of Vigneault’s club means they have no choice but to go into full-blown shutdown mode, and I think we all know that Alain Vigneault descends into hockey vampirism — sucking the life out of games in order to survive — with unbridled, abject glee. The Canucks were unyielding in their defensive posture in this one, scoring early, then nursing a 1-0 lead so completely that, after the game, they had to burp it. I sort of felt like a creep when I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 0 Kings
The big story in this one was the play of Cory “The C-Wall” Schneider, who stopped all 20 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. He has now allowed just 3 goals in his last 3 games, all wins for the Canucks. Schneider seems to have settled into a groove, which helps to solve one of the big issues facing the club earlier in the month: subpar goaltending. Far from subpar, Schneider’s effort in this one was, to use a golf analogy, sub-par.
20 saves may not sound like much, but Schneider was busier than the shot total indicated. The Kings were down low with the puck a lot, and there were several scrambles in the crease on which Schneider had to be sharp in tracking the puck and giving LA nothing to shoot at. He was taking the net away from the Kings like they had tried to access porn at the library.
The lone goal in this one came off the stick of Mason Raymond, and I can’t say enough about his presence of mind at both the beginning and the end of the play. After the puck deflects off of the boards to Jordan Schroeder, Raymond realizes he might be able to get a partial break and turns on the jets to get behind Jake Muzzin. Then, once he’s in alone, he reacts quickly to an attempted pokecheck by Quick, putting the puck five-hole for the goal. Great situational awareness from Raymond.
Not so much from Muzzin. Watch this play a few times and you can see exactly how he gets burned. Drifting out to the neutral zone, marking Raymond, he looks over his left shoulder to see where the puck is and watches it come off the boards towards Schroeder, who could hit Raymond with a pass. Muzzin instantly realizes that if Raymond is smart, he’ll be taking off towards the LA end. He looks over his right shoulder to check. Sure enough, Raymond is smart, so Muzzin takes off after him, but after a few strides, he makes the mistake of looking over his left shoulder again to see if Schroeder is going to attempt the pass. This causes him to lose speed, giving Raymond more room. That means that if Schroeder is making the pass, Muzzin is done. Here’s that moment, in a screengrab I call, “Jake Muzzin realizes he’s screwed”:
Great pass by Schroeder, too. It was enough to earn him his third point in as many games, and get Ben Kuzma to suggest he ”may be the club’s best passer.” As Nic Cage might says, “That’s high praise“, although, when your team is 11% Sedin most nights, it’s also kind of insane praise.
Normally, John and John’s half-hearted plugs for Dan Murphy’s Twitter account are the broadcasting equivalent of Homer Simpson saying “Ooh, they have the Internet on computers now“. But Shorty nailed it tonight. As Murphy’s Twitter handle flashed on the screen, Shorty quipped, “Dan Murphy, yet to be the subject of an Amanda Bynes tweet, but we suspect he’ll be next.” I would pay for Amanda Bynes to send out that same NSFW tweet with @sportsnetmurph in place of @Drake.
Chris “Logan” Tanev was boarded by Dustin Penner and skated it off, because he’s almost invincible. How is it that these guys with extraordinary healing capabilities always end up in Canada? Related: we really should fuse adamantium to Tanev’s bones. It would be wasteful not to.
We’ll probably hear a lot about the Canucks only testing Quick 13 times in this game, and sure, that’s a laughable shot total, but really, the entire group deserves praise for their defensive effort in this one. The Kings spent the majority of this game pressing for an equalizing goal, and the Canucks held them to just 20 shots. Even better, only 14 shots in the time after Raymond scored. One brief, exciting moment and then 49 minutes of burning the clock: basically, this game was an American Idol results show in reverse.
Speaking of the clock, who runs the one at the Staples Center? Samuel Beckett? A year after it stopped just long enough for the Kings to score a late goal versus Columbus, I was baffled when nearly four seconds were added before the final faceoff tonight for pretty much no reason. Thank you, nameless, existentialist game clock operator, for reminding us once again that time is a meaningless and arbitrary human construct.
In case you were wondering, the powerplay continues to be bad. According to Canucks Army, it generated two scoring chances, both of which were for the Kings. Getting a five-on-four isn’t supposed to make you look ridiculous. The only time having five guys should make you look ridiculous is when it’s Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and you’re this guy.
The two teams combined for 61 hits in this game, which is 60 more hits than Dexy’s Midnight Runners. But man, what a hit.
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