The doubters were there (and for the fucktillionth time, in this series I was not one of them), but much like Mikael Samuelsson told Team Sweden his heartfelt thoughts, the Canucks delivered the same message last night: regicide completed when Daniel Sedin scored late in the 3rd period to complete the come back.
The Kings have an excellent young team, and while they almost pulled off an upset with their special team play, in the end the Canucks dominated them 5 on 5 and that was the story of the series.
The king is dead... better call the coroner.
The Canucks had to get their best players to be their best players in this series, and Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Roberto Luongo and Samuelsson certainly held up their end of the bargain. Another amazing thing about the win was they did it without real contributions from Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond. They did it by getting inspired performances from guys like Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra and Alex Edler. Hell even Andrew Alberts put together two solid games in a row. In as much as Alberts became the whipping boy for the frustrations of Canucks fans early in the series, the way he responded to the benching certainly is promising.
Drew Doughty was as billed for the most part. Highly skilled in both ends of the ice, with an ability to read the ice and anticipate plays far beyond his years. The only thing he lacks is experience, and that showed over the last couple games. It might surprise you to find out that the guy who was seemingly in on every Kings goal ended the series -5. Not to take anything away from him, but it does give you some insight into the way television narrows your scope on things sometimes. Doughty was on the ice for all three 3rd period goals last night, as the Kings were unable to fend off the Canucks.
Fixing the penalty kill was a huge reason they were able to turn this series around after going down 2 games to 1. A stat that gets lost in all that, is that the Canucks power play finished at 25%. That's a percentage rate I think they'd be very happy to maintain as they move forward. Each of the top 4 D provided a goal and had 2 helpers, while Kesler quietly racked up 6 points. He didn't have the strongest of series, but the confidence gained from this win should ensure that second line gets rolling regardless of who they play.
As far as who the Canucks take on next, I am not really sure. I suppose the hockey gods are pushing us towards a rematch with Chicago, though I would have no issues with taking on the Red Wings should the Predators be able to come back in that series. You know who I don't want to face? The Phoenix Coyotes. Not because I think the Canucks can't win, but the combination of bandwagon fans (especially some of those who follow teams that weren't even close to making the playoffs) and hyperbolic masturbation from the media will make it a most nauseating event. Let's get one thing straight: The Phoenix Coyotes are not the 'feel good story of the year'. I would slap that tag on the Avalanche. If Phoenix wasn't being bankrolled by the NHL, or didn't have a league leading number of shootout wins, perhaps I could buy into it. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see them beat Detroit. The Coyotes however are like a science experiment, and Gary Bettman is the mad scientist. It doesn't matter how big the pile of failed experiments gets, if this one thing works, whether it was by his hand or not, he will bellow from the roof of his laboratory that he's a genius.
In the meantime, let's savour the victory. The King is dead, but that crown can stay on the floor. There is much to do still. And unless Montreal can pull off another stunner tonight, this team will carry Canada's hope of finally getting the Cup back where it belongs.