I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Kings 5

Canucks fans looked at this road trip through California with some trepidation. After all, California was an unrelenting nightmare last season and the three Californian teams looked once again poised to rule the Pacific Division at the start of the season.

The Canucks’ 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday did little to assuage fans’ concerns. That win just wasn’t winny enough: the Sharks generally outplayed the Canucks, though they didn’t specifically outplay them — Ryan Miller was massively better than Antti Niemi — and the Sharks came a coulomb away from tying the game and sending it to overtime.

The team’s lacklustre performance in San Jose could be easily forgotten if they had put in a better performance against the Los Angeles Kings. Instead they collapsed like a punctured lung, while putting up less resistance than a copper wire. I watched this game.

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The Paper Feature: Tips to throw the Kings and Ducks off their game

It’s possible the Canucks’ trip to California this weekend has been overhyped.

After all, the Kings have already lost to both the Arizona Coyotes and the Carolina Hurricanes this season, so it’s probably safe to say that taking two points from them doesn’t automatically mean you’re a great team.

Still, considering what happened last year, it’s easy to understand why people are making such a big deal about this weekend’s back-to-back. Under John Tortorella, watching the Canucks play Los Angeles or Anaheim was like watching an eight-year-old go one-on-one with his dad in a game of basketball. Sure, sometimes it was close, but only because the dad was kind, and wanted his son to feel like winning was a possibility. In the final moments, the competitive spirit would always take over, and the dad would crush his son, as a reminder that being eight years old still makes you functionally useless in the grown-up world.

Men against boys, in other words.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, January 13, 2014

The big story heading into this game is how the Canucks would respond in their first game against the Los Angeles Kings since Dustin Brown injured Roberto Luongo. I wondered, personally, if the fans were out for more blood than the Canucks themselves, that, perhaps, the Canucks would be more focussed on winning the game (and passing the Kings in the Pacific Division standings), than exacting retribution.

Not so much.

It was clear right from puck drop that this game was about sending a message and establishing an identity as a team that stands up for their teammates, won’t be bullied by physical play, and is difficult to play against. Not a single guff was taken in this game; all guffs remained the possession of their original owners.

Really, it was hardly a hockey game at all. It was an absurd spectacle and a thoroughly entertaining one. I thoroughly enjoyed it when I watched this “game”.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, January 4, 2014

Roberto Luongo wasn’t overly concerned about being rusty in his return versus the Los Angeles Kings, and now we know why: the Canucks had a plan — a plan to put the proverbial white vinegar to Funny Bob right away: get outplayed. Simply put, be awful. By being ineffective with the puck and sloppy enough defensively for the Kings to register a season-high 49 shots, they allowed Luongo to see enough action that, by the second period, he was basically playing his second game back. Clever, clever.

Of course, once it became clear that Luongo was back in form, the Canucks probably should have joined him. But by then they may have just been enjoying the show. Is it their fault that Luongo was the best Canuck tonight? Wait. Actually, it is. My mistake. Like all the guys wearing white sweaters in the Staples Center this evening, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, November 9, 2013

If you’ve been wondering what it would take for John Tortorella to refrain from giving the Sedins 20+ minutes a night, we found out the answer in this game. All it took was for the Canucks to be down 4 goals heading into the third period with no hope whatsoever of coming back to win on the first night of back-to-back games against divisional rivals. So, maybe don’t expect it to happen too often.

This was the first time this season that Daniel Sedin has played fewer than 20 minutes and only the second time for Henrik. The Sedins played just two shifts in the third period, with only one of those shifts played together. Essentially, a few minutes into the third period, Tortorella quite understandably gave up on this game and began looking ahead to Sunday’s meeting with the Anaheim Ducks. I wish I could have done the same, but then I wouldn’t be able to truthfully say, “I watched this game.”

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Who would the Canucks rather face in the playoffs?

With 8 games remaining in the regular season, it seems fairly certain that the Canucks will once again win the Northwest division. The Canucks are trending in the right direction with the addition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler and are now six points up on the second place Minnesota Wild, who have lost four of their last five games.

Since the Canucks aren’t likely to catch the Anaheim Ducks, who are seven points ahead, in the standings, the Canucks will finish as the third seed in the Western Conference and face the sixth seed in the first round of the playoffs. At this point, any one of six teams could finish sixth in the West: the Kings, Sharks, Blues, Wild, Red Wings, and Coyotes, with the outside possibility of the Stars or Blue Jackets.

So, which of those teams would the Canucks rather play in the first round? Who would they rather avoid?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, March 23, 2013

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.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, March 2, 2013

The moment I knew Henrik Sedin was going to have a great night came just 10 seconds into the game. Anze Kopitar was ahead of him in the offensive zone, looking to create a scoring chance, and Henrik reached out with his stick, got it in Kopitar’s hands, and gave a little tug. With that, Henrik was off to the penalty box for hooking and also off to a great start to the game.

Captain Hook is back, I thought to myself, and sure enough, Henrik dominated the rest of the game, stickhandling around opponents with impunity and creating numerous scoring chances for his linemates. It was like the two minutes in the box spent just observing the game were exactly what he needed, as he discerned the pattern of the game and decoded it. Similarly, I did exactly what I needed to do when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, January 28, 2013

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.

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Three former Canucks still in the playoffs

It can be tough watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Canucks having already been eliminated. While the games are still entertaining, it’s just not the same without a proverbial horse in the race. Cheering against the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings only gets you so far.

Fortunately for the dedicated Canucks fan, there are three significant former Canucks still in the playoff picture. At the very least, Canucks fans can cheer for the individual success of Willie Mitchell, Taylor Pyatt, and Steve Bernier. I thought it would be worthwhile to look at these three players and see how they got to where they are and how they have found a place with their respective teams where, perhaps, they were not able to on the Canucks.

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Spitballin’ on sweeping Kings, Kesler’s shoulder, and Skittle Burrows

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 22, 2012

Though it was a tough way to lose the game, the Canucks can take solace in getting the game to overtime and earning the single point. Wait, what? That’s not how it works in the playoffs? The Canucks have been eliminated? That’s it? It’s over? Oh. I watched this game. Canucks 1 – 2 Kings [...]

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Breakdowning Henrik’s 3rd period goal from Game 4

The return of Daniel Sedin on Wednesday was expected to have a trickle-down effect on the Canucks lineup, but Alain Vigneault wasn’t content to just put things back the way they were. He put David Booth, who had just one goal in his last 14 games, with the twins and put Dan Hamhuis on the point of the powerplay instead of returning Sami Salo to his usual spot.

Both turned out to be good decisions: Booth picked up the primary assist on Kevin Bieksa’s gamewinning goal by using his speed to back off the defence, giving Bieksa plenty of room to shoot, while Hamhuis set up Alex Edler on the opening goal on the powerplay.

Both Booth and Hamhuis played a major role in Henrik Sedin’s insurance marker in the third period as well. I had an insurance marker once. It was a felt pen from where my parents bought insurance. It wasn’t as nice as Henrik’s goal.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, April 18, 2012

It would be tough to overstate the impact that Daniel Sedin had in his return to the lineup Wednesday night, but I’m going to try: Daniel’s impact was the essence of impact itself; by the game’s end, Quebec’s MLS club had changed their name to the Montreal Daniel Sedin.

The guy made a difference, is what I’m saying. In his first game back from a concussion, Daniel had a game-high 11 shots attempted, over 20% of the Canucks’ shot creation. He and Henrik were on the ice for all 3 Vancouver goals, and although they only picked up points on the third, their presence on the ice opened up space for everyone else and gave the entire team a spark. And not just any spark — the Allspark, which gives life to Autobots, Decepticons, and other cold, lifeless mechanisms, such as the Canucks’ powerplay, which came suddenly to life, going 2-for-3 in this game. And I watched this game.

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On Dustin Brown’s hit, and the Canucks’ much-maligned ‘response’

Apart from the scoreboard reading 1-0 when the final horn sounded, there wasn’t a single image in the Canucks and Kings Game 3 tilt quite as scary as a stunned Henrik Sedin weakly knocking at the bench door after being rocked by Dustin Brown.

It was a clean hit. Still, it was a huge hit that, as far as anyone knew at the time, had knocked Henrik out of the game and potentially the series. And thus, it necessitated a “response.”

Ah, the rhetoric of the response. It seems to me that when hockey fans call for a response, they’re hoping that the offending party will be beaten within an inch of his life but that he’ll emerge from it with little more than a lesson learned, effectively deterred and uninjured.

From what I gather, public sentiment is that the response the Canucks mounted wasn’t appropriate. This leads me to wonder what, exactly, Canuck fans wanted instead.

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The people versus Alain Vigneault: a case study in terrible ideas

You have to give the Canucks some credit. In just two short seasons, they’ve managed to reduce the Presidents’ Trophy to nothing. Last year this team proved that clinching it doesn’t guarantee a Stanley Cup win; this year they’re on the brink of proving that neither does it guarantee even a single playoff win. That’s impressive.

But Canuck fans are not impressed, and with the number one seed in danger of being swept by the LA Kings, you can understand why they’re looking for somebody to blame right now.

I’d blame Duncan Keith, who knocked Daniel Sedin, Vancouver’s only true elite winger, out of the lineup on a dirty, predatory hit in the season’s final stretch. Considering what it did to the team’s line combinations, powerplay, and overall identity, I’d say Keith is a pretty good target for derision.

But to hear Canuck fans tell it, the real problem in this series is that Alain Vigneault is being outcoached as usual. I am gobsmacked by the thoughtlessness behind this line of rhetoric.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, April 15, 2012

If you want to quibble with definitions, this game wasn’t technically a must-win game. Since the Canucks didn’t win, however, that makes Wednesday’s game an actual must-win game. In order to prevent that from happening, the Canucks needed to win this game, making it a proverbial, but not technical, must-win game. But, as mentioned, they didn’t muster a win.

Now I’m depressed and I think Harrison’s drunk (and he never drinks). On the plus side, all of Vancouver is now too despondent to leave the house, meaning The Bay won’t have to replace all their windows this year. Oh hell, now I’m making riot jokes: this is definitely the lowest of the low. I watched this game.

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Video: Canuck-themed ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ parody features facepaint, moping

With Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know” at the height of its popularity (seriously, I’ve seen it on every television show I’ve watched this week), I figured it would only be a matter of time before some group of hockey fans somewhere gave it the playoff parody treatment. Sure enough, the inevitable has happened, and the group behind it are citizens of Canuck nation.

This video is the product of comedy team IFHT, whose name is best left as an unexplained acronym (for the same reason B.M.F.A, Martha Wainwright’s debut single, was). In a nice touch, the team takes it one step further than just parodying Gotye’s song, also styling their video after his, with face paint, awkward standing and a pretty girl yelling in their ear:

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 13, 2012

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!

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Video: Alex Burrows taunts Mike Richards’ alleged affinity for partying

Alex Burrows is one of the league’s most renowned (and some might say reviled) chirpers. He’ll say almost anything to get an opponent off their game, including bizarrely personal stuff for which he clearly does research. He’s admitted to checking his opponents’ statistics before games. You’ll recall his and Ryan Kesler’s taunts to David Backes back in 2009, which included mentioning Backes’s wife by name. And he once got Detroit Red Wings’ enforcer Aaron Downey worked up by making fun of the Downey family potato farm.

That in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of his taunts to Mike Richards was similarly tailored. After Richards laid the Canuck winger out with a big, open-ice hit in the dying seconds, Burrows went after Richards at the next stoppage. As the linesmen separated them, Burrows took a jab at Richards’s reputation as a partier by dragging his finger under his nose. Twice.

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The Kings apologize for harmless tweet; Canuck fans need to develop thicker skin

In case you’re still stewing with outrage over the sheer audacity of the Los Angeles Kings Twitter account, I want you to know that they have heard your cries. Thursday afternoon, the Kings apologized for the tweet, which was, of course, heinous. It was in poor taste to suggest the Sedins were women, claim Francophones such as Alain Vigneault and Alex Burrows should be exiled to France, call Cory Schneider a ginger, and make a riot joke all in one tweet.

Wait, that’s not what happened? They merely suggested the rest of Canada was rooting against the Canucks? Then why is the outrage-o-meter bordering on aneurysmal? Because that’s just true.

Earlier this week, I predicted that we might see a redemption narrative take shape this year in the national coverage, especially since the Canucks had scaled back the embellishment, Maxim Lapierre had become a fighter, and the whole group was tougher and less powerplay-reliant. But, one game into the Stanley Cup playoffs, I can already say that I was wrong.

I didn’t expect Byron Bitz to hit a guy in the head (and neither did he, judging from his contrition this morning); it was a surprise that Ryan Kesler decided to pick Game 1 of the postseason to ratchet up the fakery, something we’ve hardly seen at all from him this season; and I wholly underestimated the way that hating the Canucks had become a national pastime, something the Kings’ social media guy clearly gets, and Canuck fans might want to get used to.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 11, 2012

I was promised prior to tonight’s game that playoff hockey is the best hockey. I don’t know about you, but I thought this particular game was pretty lousy. Now I can never trust again.

It’s difficult for a game to be entertaining when it’s bogged down by constant penalty calls. Approximately half of the first two periods of this game were spent with one of the two teams on the powerplay. It made for an extremely disjointed game that significantly lacked any sense of flow. So, essentially, me when I try to rap.

I watched this game.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Preview: By The Numbers

Game one of the Canucks first round playoff series versus the Los Angeles Kings is starting in just a couple hours. To get you ready, I’ve compiled a plethora of numbers from these two teams in order to draw some comparisons. Ultimately, the numbers suggest that this will be a tougher series than the first-versus-eighth matchup would suggest.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Preview: A chat with the enemy, Kings blogger The Royal Half

The Canucks open their first round series with the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday, and we’re sure to get to know this team a little better over the next two weeks or so. Don’t be fooled into thinking you already know them — they’re not the same Kings team we saw in 2010. Coach Terry Murray has been replaced by Darryl Sutter, Jack Johnson has been effectively replaced by rookie blueliner Slava Voynov, and the troubled bromance of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards has moved to Hollywood.

There are other changes, too. Dustin Penner plays for LA now. Michal Handzus doesn’t. They don’t score all that well. And so on.

Really, when it comes down to it, what we know about this team pales in comparison to what their own bloggers know about this team, which is why we sat down with Kings blogger The Royal Half to get a better insight into his team and we’ll see from them over the next 4 to 7 games.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Preview: IWTG Review

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!

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