I think the whole city of Vancouver is wondering what in the world is happening to our beloved Canucks right now. It’s been a long time since we have seen the Canucks start a playoff series 2-0 (11 years in fact). The Canucks do not look like a powerhouse team whatsoever. They look like a team that has lost all confidence in two games.
So what happened? Well, in game 2 the Canucks outshot the Kings 48-26, but lost 4-2. I thought the Canucks played ok most of the game, but gave the Kings some absolute gifts.
Alex Edler’s giveaway at the end of the first period was ridiculous and inexcusable. To try a drop pass in your own zone with under 20 seconds left in the period is an enormous brain fart. I know that the drop pass is included in their power play breakout, but it is meant to be done with speed coming through the neutral zone, not slowly through the defensive zone.
The second gift was given by Dan Hamhuis, also on the power play. Once again the Canucks were unable to make a pass, but then Hamhuis compounded the problem by diving for the puck on his own blueline. It was an uncharacteristic ridiculous risk taken by Hamhuis, in which the worst case scenario (a short handed breakaway) came true.
I put a lot of the blame on the Canucks game 1 loss on the refereeing and Alain Vigneault’s decision making. I thought the refs were fine in game 2 and AV was better as well (though I still don’t understand his refusal to use Max Lapierre with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows).
The story of game 2 was specialty teams. The Canucks power play and penalty killing was horrendous. The Canucks were 0-5 on the power play and gave up 2 shorthanded goals. The Kings were 1-4. The Canucks had a terrible time entering the Kings’ zone, and once they did they had a hard time making a simple pass. It was very reminiscent of the series against the Bruins last June. The Kings on the other hand entered the zone with ease, moved the puck around and got shots on net with ease.
Anyone think that having Cody Hodgson in the lineup right now would be pretty helpful? He was the catalyst for their second power play unit all season, and would be a nice insurance policy when Daniel Sedin went down with an injury. To make matters worse, Zach Kassian is getting only about 6 minutes of ice time a game and Marc-Andre Gragnani has been a healthy scratch twice.
If the Canucks were able to make sure their power plays were just average, even if they didn’t score, they would have won game 2. Instead, their power plays were momentum sapping, or worse, when they got scored on shorthanded.
It’s interesting to think that the Canucks didn’t play particularly well in a game they outshot their opponent 48-26. But it’s true. If the Canucks had a better power play, they would have won in my opinion, but that’s not to say they were amazing at even strength. At even strength, they were solid, but not spectacular. A lot of the shots on goal were wrist shots from the outside.
I thought that Roberto Luongo was very good in game 1 and good again in game 2, though not spectacular. I think it’s time for Cory Schneider to get a chance to prove himself in game 3. This isn’t about putting the blame on Luongo, it’s about the talent of Cory Schneider.
It doesn’t look like Daniel Sedin will be back in this series, and that’s terrible news. Losing Daniel is tough enough, but it also means that Henrik is less effective as well.
So the Canucks have work to do. They will need to win 4 out of the next 5 games to avoid the biggest upset in team history. Fix their specialty teams and get some confidence and they’ll be on their way.