First let me start off by apologizing to the hockey gods. This is not the first time I have apologized to them. I first apologized to them after game 6 versus Chicago last season. I apologized because I wrote that we should ‘get our brooms ready’ and that the ‘writing was on the wall‘. Then the Hawks blew out the Canucks in games 4 and 5, and won again in game 6.
So what did I do this time? Well, I stated that Dustin Penner doesn’t scare me (and showed a picture of him dreaming about pancakes). Annnnnd then he scored the winning goal.
I know Homer… This time I have learned my lesson. To hell with blog ratings, we need a Stanley Cup in this city. Dustin Penner, you have regained my respect.
Ok, back to the series. The Canucks did not look particularly good in game 1. Actually, they looked downright terrible. Roberto Luongo was the only reason the Canucks had a chance to win. Even when they were winning or tied in the game, I thought the Kings were the better team. Sure, the way the refs called the game was a bit questionable, but the Kings were the better team.
If I’m head coach Alain Vigneault, I would make some key lineup changes. First off, get Mason Raymond off the top line. Raymond is a useful two-way player, but he is not a front line player. He doesn’t score very much and he doesn’t create space for his linemates. That’s not exactly the description of a player I would like playing with Henrik Sedin. Personally, I thought that Max Lapierre looked excellent when he was playing Alex Burrows and Henrik Sedin.
Secondly, I would reunite the Amex line. Ryan Kesler and David Booth have never looked as good this year as when Chris Higgins was playing on their line. I know that Alain Vigneault wants to have a good checking line, but he can’t do that at the expense of a good scoring line. That would leave Mason Raymond to play with Hansen and Pahlsson and a fourth line of Malhotra, Kassian and Weise.
My changes don’t just come on the forward lines. They absolutely need to get their top 4 defencemen playing on their top 2 pairings. Kevin Bieksa only seems to look good with Dan Hamhuis, while Alex Edler looks most comfortable with the calming influence of Sami Salo. Do that and the Canucks are still left with a very respectable third pairing of Chris Tanev and Aaron Rome.
Those are my only lineup changes for game 2, but of course they need to fix their specialty teams. I thought their penalty kill was much too passive and the Kings got to set-up with ease.
The Canucks power play has been struggling for a long time. They have trouble with their entries and don’t produce many scoring chances once they’re set-up. They will need to figure out a way to enter the offensive zone with greater success. Perhaps the answer is to chip the puck in with speed? I thought the Canucks’ best power play was their last one, when they peppered Jonathan Quick with shots from all angles. I hate those idiots that yell ‘shoooooot’ all the time at Canucks games as much as anyone, but they should shoot it a little more. It’s hard to make pinpoint passes when you’re struggling and lack confidence, so bump the slump with a greasy goal.
Fix the lines, fix the D pairs and fix their special teams. Oh yeah, stay out of the box too, but still be aggressive. Nobody said it was an easy trophy to win.