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Canucks collapse in Game One and lose to underdog Kings
The Los Angeles Kings squeaked into the playoffs with a hope and a prayer and played last night’s round 1 game as if they were the President’s Trophy winning team. The same cannot be said for the actual President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks. As they fell to the Kings, 4-2 in their series opener.
Vancouver - April 12, 2012 - The Los Angeles Kings squeaked into the playoffs with a hope and a prayer and played last night’s round 1 game as if they were the President’s Trophy winning team. The same cannot be said for the actual President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks as they mostly played the game as if it were October and not the playoffs. Seriously!
Did somebody forget to post the memo on the Canucks locker room wall that the playoffs started tonight, and that their opponent was the scoring challenged 8th place Kings, or were the Canucks just expecting the Kings to mail in a performance and go home? To say the Kings actually “showed up” for tonight’s game is an understatement as they literally schooled the league’s number 1 team in how to actually play a playoff hockey game. Seriously!
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Canucks though, as there were a handful of Canucks who actually played with heart and sole and at least put forth a round 1 playoff effort. Then there were a few who spent more time and energy taking stupid penalties or worse yet, trying to draw a stupid penalty, which only made the Kings performance look all that more impressive.
Firstly, Roberto Luongo showed up for tonight’s game and dispelled any rumors about his ability to make the big saves when it really mattered for his team. Without his play tonight, the score would have been a whole lot worse than 4-2. Right from the puck drop, he was besieged with shots from the Kings as the Canucks D just plain and simple did not have an answer for the Kings. For the first 4:17 of the period, it wall all Kings until Alexandre Burrows scored the opening goal with a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that beat Jonathan Quick low on the blocker side. The goal happened thanks to Ryan Kesler bumping Quick while out of the blue paint moments before Burrows let his shot loose. The Canucks scored the all important first goal which usually means its lights out for the opponent, but instead the Canucks went play went somewhere dark and evil, and it started with Kesler’s stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 12:32 of the period when he decided to give Quick the infamous snow-shower after the play had been whistled dead. Add 3 more Canucks penalties within a 5 minute span after Kesler’s brain cramp penalty and the Kings actually started to sense that they could not only win this game, but the series as well as they poured on the pressure and dominated the Canucks in their own zone for most of the period. Thanks to Luongo, the Canucks entered the first intermission with the score 1-1, but it could have been a lot worse for the Canucks, a lot worse.
With the Canucks being sorely outplayed by the team that barely made the playoffs, it must have been decided during the intermission that if the Canucks skill couldn’t match up to the Kings, then maybe taking stupid penalties could somehow even the playing field. Zack Kassian started it off by taking a charging penalty at 3:24, then three minutes later it was followed up with another charging penalty by Lapierre. During all this lunacy of penalty killing, Luongo was quietly holding down the fort between the pipes as he, and Canucks nation waited for his team to get their act together and start playing playoff caliber hockey. Well at 12:12 of the second period, Byron Bitz summed up the frustration level of the Canucks and signaled that the Canucks were quickly becoming unraveled and took a 5 minute major and game misconduct by planting Kyle Clifford’s face squarely into half boards glass. It wouldn’t have been bad if Bitz had at least gotten any other part of Clifford’s body in the check, but it was all head. Not a good penalty either way you look at it, and it just added more fuel to the Kings fire. The Canucks were almost able to kill of the entire 5 minutes, but couldn’t quite hang on as ex-Canuck Willie Mitchell lets a slapper go from the blue line, and the deflected puck beat Luongo to give the Kings a 2-1 lead. But with 7 seconds left in the period, with Mason Raymond providing the screen in front of Quick, Alexander Edler let a wrist shot go from the blue line to beat Quick over the right shoulder to tie the game at 2.
The third period showed the Canucks were starting to settle down a bit and start to play hockey, and with the late goal in the second period to tie the game it seemed the Canucks had the momentum on their side. But even though the Canucks stayed out of the penalty box for the final 20 minutes, and enjoyed two power plays, they just couldn’t ramp it up enough to beat Quick and the Kings who by then had the confidence that they could indeed skate with the big boys of the league. Dustin Penner scored the winner late in the period by being the recipient of a nice deflected pass from Mike Richards’ skate to easily beat Luongo as he was playing the shot on the other side of the net. Dustin Brown added the empty netter at 19:42 to further humiliate the league’s top point getting team in the home opener of the 2012 playoffs.
The reason for tonight’s loss was simple. Discipline, or rather the lack of it is what doomed the Canucks. The antics of trying to draw a penalty call by some of the Canucks was truthfully embarrassing and it took away from some stellar play by Luongo and David Booth to name a few. Let’s hope the Canucks learn from tonight’s game and decide to play more Canucks style hockey on Friday, and less time taking stupid penalties and even less time trying to draw penalties! It’s playoff hockey, so let’s hope the Canucks do justice to the fact that they won the President’s trophy by playing playoff caliber hockey on Friday night and even the series up.
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