April 14, 2012
All The King's Men Have Canucks In Trouble
The Los Angeles Kings have taken a stranglehold of their best-of-seven playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, winning 4-2 on Friday night. The Kings now lead the series 2-0.
Here's some slap shots concerning the series so far:
Canucks Play Is Powerless
Sportsnet's Dan Murphy said it best when he tweeted "#Canucks lost game one because they took too many penalties. Could lose game two because the #Kings took too many."
The Canucks have a number of problems against the Kings, but the impotent power play is the biggest. The power play is supposed to be the Canucks' bread and butter. If it was clicking it could have bailed them out of game one. In game two not only did they rarely get a scoring chance with the man-advantage, but they actually surrendered two short-handed goals. The Canucks power play is now 0 for 10 in the series. The power play of 2011 would totally be masking the Canucks other problems.
Don't blame Daniel Sedin's absence for the power play's woes. The Canucks have been clicking at just an 11% efficiency rate since mid-January. Other teams have figured out their zone entries. Once they finally do get set up, the Canucks are not moving the puck fast enough, opening up the shooting lanes. Instead they let Henrik Sedin hold the puck, but since everyone knows he will never shoot the puck, the penalty killers just cover everyone else and let Henrik wait.
I must give Ryan Kesler full kudos. I called him out big time after game one for his selfish, undisciplined play. He entered Beast-mode in the second period of game two, reminding everyone of the Kesler who was so dominant in last year's playoffs. He was the Canucks best skater, which he is fully capable of being on any night. At least on any night when he is not auditioning for Cirque du Soleil on Ice with all his theatrics.
Don't Count On Daniel
Lots of people will be speculating whether the Canucks will dress Daniel Sedin for game three, rushing him back from injury. No way. This isn't a broken bone or bruised ribs. He has a head injury. And, as far as we know, he has basically skated for less than 30 minutes since the series began. It would be an irresponsible shock if he plays
Canucks In Trouble
History tells us the Canucks are in trouble. Historically speaking, when the road team wins the first two games of a best of seven series, that team goes on to win 86.4% of the time. That number dips slightly to 84% in round one.
The Kings will now go home and have home ice. That's a big advantage given that they can keep Anze Kopitar away from Ryan Kesler. Instead watch for Mike Richards to face-off against Kesler. Richards absolutely dominated the head-to-head play in game one.
Can the Canucks come back? Sure. But it does not look good right now.
Schneider or Luongo?
Who gets the start in net for Vancouver is going to be the big question. Roberto Luongo can not be blamed at all for the Canucks current plight. In fact he held the Canucks close much of both games, and could not be blamed for any weak goals. He has been their best player through 120 minutes played in the series. But the Canucks are not winning, and even though that is because of poor defensive zone coverage and bad specialty teams, that very possibly could mean the shake up comes in the form of Cory Schneider, as unfair as that may be to Luongo. The long term implications of such a move may prove to be even more interesting than the short term effects.
Vigneault's Job On The Line?
By standing behind the bench in game three, Alain Vigneault will surpass Pat Quinn as the Canucks all time leader in Stanley Cup games coach with 62. Should the Canucks not overcome the long odds and salvage this series, could Vigneault be coaching his last games in Vancouver?