Roberto Luongo saved his best game in the first round for game 6, and was the best player on the ice. Everyone will be talking about his big save off of Ryan Smyth, dubbed the “save of the series” by Jim Hughson, but his game was more than that save, as big as it was. The Los Angeles Kings were the best team on the ice for the first 40 minutes but it was none other than their team captain Roberto Luongo that kept them in it. They were outshot 26-11 through the first two periods, but were bailed out by Luongo until the Canucks finally found their groove and grossly outplayed the Kings in the third.
The Kings power play finally ran out of steam in game 6, going 0 for 5. Give credit to the Canucks coaching staff for making the right adjustments on it. They were much more aggressive on their penalty kill, not just in their own zone, but all over the ice, making the Kings entries more difficult.
Great observation by the Hockey Night in Canada analysts in the second intermission about the fatigue of Michael Handzus. The checking centre, given the responsibility of limiting the Sedins in this series, really looked like he couldn’t handle the big minutes tonight. Handzus played 21 minutes in game 6, up significantly from his 18 minutes of ice time that he averaged in the regular season. Watching labour around the ice reminded me a lot of Mats Sundin huffing and puffing last season, unable to keep up.
For the Canucks, this series was about a few things. Luongo finding his game, the Sedins dominating and coming up big in the clutch, as well as the emergence of Alex Edler. All great things to see, but they’ll need even more in the second round. They’ll play Chicago unless Nashville comes back to win that series, in which case they would play the winner of Detroit-Phoenix. Who would you want to play? Drop a note in the comments section. I loved Luongo’s reaction, saying he wants Chicago (check it out here at the 6:40 mark), wanting some redemption for last season’s playoff series. I’m not sure that’s the most favourable matchup, but it would definitely be the most exciting.