Hell in Hollywood; Canucks penalty kill falters in 5-3 loss to Kings
Watch game highlights here.
Despite having the offensive upside of a six-year old, Ryan Johnson brings certain things to the Vancouver Canucks that no other player can bring. He blocks shots (3rd in NHL for forwards) and wins faceoffs, and thrives at both while shorthanded. The Canucks could have used Johnson Monday night as they went 0-3 on the penalty kill in a 5-3 loss to Los Angeles, and have now successfully killed off under half of their penalties so far in the playoffs. As a comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs had the worst penalty kill percentage during the regular season (enough said, right?), at 74.6%. The Canucks PK so far this post season is 41.7%. This obviously has to be remedied soon for Vancouver to stand a chance at coming back and winning the series.
I guess we should give the Kings' powerplay their due credit. Even though the Canucks have allowed L.A's two all-star defensemen all the time in the world, and they cannot block a shot to save their lives (well, playoff lives) – L.A have moved the puck around well and capitalized on Roberto Luongo's large rebounds.
Michael Handzus scored twice for the Kings, who also got singles from Brad Richardson, Ryan Smyth and Drew Doughty (also had 3 assists), while Mason Raymond (1st), Daniel Sedin (2nd), and Mikael Samuelsson (4th) scored for the Canucks. Samuelsson continued his strong play and has proven himself as a playoff performer with 4 goals and an assist in the first 3 games. The Kings coaching staff said themselves that Samuelsson is the guy who scares them, not the Sedins. This brings me to the Sedins - they need to be better. All night they were outplayed by L.A's 3rd line. Daniel and Henrik need to be the best players on the ice in order for Vancouver to be successful, and I expect they will turn it around on Wednesday.
All in all, Vancouver is not playing very good hockey right now. They need to get better in all assets of the game, including goaltending, in order to win this series. Here are a few more comments and observations:
– Daniel Sedin's disallowed goal in the 3rd period was shockingly incorrect. The rule is a player cannot use a distinct kicking motion to kick the puck into the net. Because the goal was deemed legal on the play, the replay had to "conclusively" prove that Daniel used a kicking motion to redirect the puck into the net. Judge for yourself HERE.
– Apparently league commissioner Gary Bettman wants LA to be a big hockey market. I wonder who was on the phone with the ref to call off that Vancouver goal? Conspiracy perhaps? I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
This was the NHL's explanation for calling the goal off. Doesn't sound too conclusive to me.
– Roberto Luongo has to start playing like a top notch goalie. His juicy rebounds and his susceptibility to the weak goal are hurting this team.
– Andrew Alberts can thank Vancouver's poor penalty killing for keeping him out of the spotlight.
– The penalty kill is way too passive. They need to pressure LA's defenseman and negate the shooting lanes.
With all of that said, keep in mind that the series is still young, and a win on Wednesday and Canuck fans worldwide will be optimistic once again.