Game in a Sentence:
Despite the Canucks going Sedin to Sedin to open the scoring in the first, the LA Kings were largely the better team on Sunday night and sent the game to overtime where Jarret Stoll put them into the second round in a record five games for an eight seed.
- The Kings appeared to be the team that was more relaxed off the bat in this game and I suppose having that 3-1 lead with nothing to lose does that for you. The starting trio of Kopitar-Richards-Carter was interesting and lasted all of what felt like 20 seconds before they slipped back into their normal alignments which were shuffled consistently throughout the night.
- The Canucks were led, of course, by the Sedin twins and whoever decided to join them on the top line. Jannik Hansen seemed to have the most productive minutes up with the big boys but they just couldn’t get the right bounce to beat another stellar performance from Jonathan Quick.
- The calls which led to the Kings first two power plays were debatable, but they weren’t the worst thing in the world for Vancouver. The Canucks did an excellent job of keeping Los Angeles to the outside of the zone and minimizing their quality scoring chances. All in all, it was a great chance for Cory Schneider to get involved in the flow of the play while Quick waited to be tested in the game at the other end. I have no doubt that it played a role in the Canucks scoring on the power play minutes later as Quick didn’t look entirely comfortable and the Kings looked out of system on the back end.
- One particular shift by a line of Kesler-Burrows-Lapierre really stuck out early as they tried to manufacture some energy for their team. It worked for a little while as the Canucks seemed to get a rise before the end of the period, but the Kings reeled them back in by the end of the frame.
- A bit of fuss was made before the game about Dale Weise being put in the lineup for Zack Kassian to play on the fourth line, but as I suspected it wound up being a completely nothing move. Weise had a couple good shifts but wound up playing 6:37 for the Canucks, least of any player on either side. A big problem for the Canucks this series was an inability to generate anything from their bottom six. It seemed as though they didn’t trust their fourth line at all and despite some dangerous looking moments from the likes of Chris Higgins and David Booth, not much was happening offensively. In a tight series like this, you really need your grind-it-out types to help bail out your big guns and the assistance just wasn’t there for Vancouver.
- For all of the cracks made about him, I felt as though Jeff Carter played his best game of the series tonight. I noticed him on the ice, he was strong on the puck and generated some positive possessions for the Kings. That being said, I still don’t know how he botched that play in front of the goal in overtime.
- Also, I was very impressed with the performance of Dwight King tonight. He played his way into a ton of big moments in this game, tested Schneider and threw several hits in the gritty areas of the ice. His reaction to Stoll’s goal was pretty classic as his celebration was muted as he clearly wanted Stoll to pass on the 2-on-1. Rookies these days…
- The good and bad of Drew Doughty. The good: that assist which spurred the Richardson goal. Brilliant strength and puck possession. The bad: taking a silly shot right at Ryan Kesler to kill his own power play. Just a needless play that he can’t afford to make in big games. More of the good going forward, please.
- Alex Burrows just seemed off for me this entire series. Think back to last year’s first round against the Blackhawks and he was an absolute killer for Vancouver. This year he only has one goal to show for his efforts in the playoffs after scoring 28 during the regular season. Was he hurt? We’ll find out, but his play left much to be desired for a guy who had some huge moments during their run last season.
- Speaking of injuries, Mike Richards definitely has something wrong. It was pretty evident this game that any big hits laid on him caused him to slow down and lose that jump. Some time off before round two should serve him well as the Kings need a lot from him if they’re going to see this through.
- Anze Kopitar was dominant this game, simple as that. He’s a flat out great player in all three zones and had several very productive shifts. The Canucks just didn’t have an answer for him as they seemed to want Kesler matched up against Richards instead. Again, this is why Dean Lombardi traded for Richards. It forces teams to pick their poison this time of year.
- Dan Hamhuis was the best player for the Canucks all series long and it’s a shame that his blowing a tire led to their season ending. Upon further review, by the way, that was not a penalty. At first glance it fit the bill, but the officials did well to not call anything. It was the right decision.
- I knew this game would go to overtime the moment Quick stonewalled Sedin on a breakaway before the end of the second period. That’s a huge momentum play for both sides and a big message from the goaltender to the guys in front of him. Unbelievable play.
- Cory Schneider was a rock for the Canucks in goal. The Kings were buzzing around him all game, making life very difficult but he kept it together and turned them aside again and again. In overtime he got beat by a beautiful shot, simple as that. He is the Canucks starting goaltender on opening day next year unless they get an absolutely mindblowing return for him on a trade.
- Jonathan Quick, meet the spotlight. He toiled away on a middling team all year and heaved them into the playoffs thanks to his sub-2.00 goals against average. Once they got there he followed it up with more stellar performances to push them into round two. I’m not going to say that he stole the series because I felt the Kings were, by and large, the better team out there BUT it was a great platform for him to showcase his game to folks to don’t always get to see him. He may very well be the best goaltender in the world right now.
- I don’t know what lies ahead for the Canucks, but there are a lot of questions to be asked. What to do with Roberto Luongo? Is Alain Vigneault the right man for the job? What about Mike Gillis? Is it time to restructure the defensive corps? And on we go. I’m going to have a close eye on the situation in Vancouver after another disappointing playoff finish as they could really shift the balance of power in the West and depending on if/who they make trade partners with. Some high impact pieces could be dangled out there.
- The Kings will advance to the second round to take on the St. Louis Blues. Next goal wins.
My Three Stars:
1) Jonathan Quick
2) Jarret Stoll
3) Cory Schneider