This game recap format has been stolen by yours truly from our good friends at The Footy Blog and will be deployed as often as I can humanly do it in what is sure to be a ridiculous postseason.
Game in a Sentence
The Los Angeles Kings came into this game as heavy underdogs but found a way to get it done against the Canucks proving that they can hang with the defending Western Conference champs and could very well knock them off.
- The Kings came in with your standard road strategy in a playoff game and executed it very well. Trying to minimize mistakes, forcing the Canucks to react to their play and keeping things simple were all key to them pulling out a win tonight and they were full value for it.
- The good and bad of Ryan Kesler came out tonight early and often. I would be more than happy to argue that when he’s on his game, Kesler is the premiere two way forward in the NHL, but tonight I found that he was too caught up in the little pointless battles of the game. His discipline issues shouldn’t be popping up at this time of the year. Play your game and force people to find a way to deal with you. He has the ability to be dominant and little things like going out of his way to snow the goalie which remove him from the ice aren’t helping his team at all.
- I was very impressed with the Kings’ ability to pass the puck on the attack tonight. The hallmark of a good team is how well they move the puck around and the Kings, when they’re on, can do it with the best of ‘em. They may not score as often as they should but this team is much more skilled than many give them credit for.
- Roberto Luongo played a solid game and made a number of tough, if not spectacular saves. He was clearly on form tonight and it is a shame the Canucks couldn’t pull out a win to reward their unfairly maligned goaltender.
- Byron Bitz was ejected from the game for his hit on Kyle Clifford. Suspension worthy? If so, how many games? Obviously not as impactful on the roster sheet as Shea Weber and Henrik Zetterberg but worth discussing nonetheless.
- Regarding the non-call on the Canucks’ first goal, I did think Jonathan Quick had a right to be upset. Kesler clearly disrupts his positioning which obviously impacted his ability to make a save on the shot. Sure, RK never went into the crease but I’ve seen standard interference calls between position players for much less. Goaltenders aren’t untouchable and this should be a key point going forward, but they shouldn’t be punished for having a crease in the first place. Interference is interference and should be called as such.
- You’ll note that only Cam Charron and I picked the Kings to knock off Vancouver. One of my primary motivators was I see LA as one of the few teams that can match Vancouver down the middle. Mike Richards is a proven playoff stud and I expect him to be a real catalyst for the Kings, Anze Kopitar is among the best in the game and Jeff Carter can line up at center no problem. If Jarrett Stoll is your fourth best center, that is a tough assignment for any seed let alone a number one.
- The Kings were fortunate to not be victimized by the Canucks for their early power play failings. With Vancouver’s explosiveness they need to be as efficient as possible going forward because you can’t simply count on a team to continue to shoot itself in the foot, execution needs to kick in. Signed, Captain Obvious.
- Going forward Alex Edler will be a real X-Factor in my mind for this series. He’s a VERY underrated defenseman and his physical and offensive presence is a huge asset for the Canucks. Unfortunately he is prone to the occasional lapse and those need to be minimized for Vancouver to come back from this deficit.
- On the other blueline, I love watching Drew Doughty run an offense. Again, a young defenseman prone to the occasional lapse, but his creativity and vision with the puck is awesome. Love it. He rebounded nicely after a rough start to the game…
- Quick was fantastic as expected. Obviously the volume of saves wasn’t equal to Luongo but there were several key saves which prevented the Canucks from gaining control of the game – a few cross crease beauties really impressed me. He’ll be tough to beat for the rest of the series but you worry about him being relied upon too heavily. Even with all that in mind, it’ll be a very tough positional battle for Roberto Luongo to win.
- Related: I really hope the Canucks don’t rush Daniel Sedin back because they’re down in the series. His long term health should be the focus of the organization, especially now that apparent neck problems are popping up, and he shouldn’t be thrown in the with intention of being Mr. Fix-it. Let him rest until he’s 100% – if it’s next season, so be it.
- If Dustin Penner pancake jokes are still a thing I’ve got a whole stack. Boom. Pun.
- Game Two. Please. Now.
My Three Stars
1. Mike Richards
2. Jonathan Quick
3. Roberto Luongo
For reaction to the “Tweet read around Canada” by the LA Kings PR staff, check out the latest instalment of A Cup of Joe in the Morning (read: the next post on this blog)