It's not like we have not seen this movie before. It certainly is not easy to figure out it your team was that horrible, or was it just that the home team was all that good?
Well folks, put it this way. The line between winning and losing is a fine one in any professional sport, but in particular in the NHL. The Canucks were actually not that far from a different result in this one. In a first period where they might have been the better team ( and were certainly the better team early. Credit Quick for keeping his team in it with some big saves when the home team came out flat ), they were a bit unlucky to not get the rewarded, a bit loose in their own end and on the rush, and not fully able to withstand a strong performance by the Kings, who played "Big Boy Hockey", and played it well.
So, we have to blame someone, right? It is what we do, and certainly what the HNIC guys do. There was all sorts of narratives that each and every member of their "expert" team threw at the wall, most of them not flattering. Not a one of them were willing to give the Canucks any credit for a great start, except, and only if, they were making some long drawn out fete to the majesty of Jonathan Quick.
Look, Kings fans, and those thinking, "there goes Dan again, he hates the Kings". You may be right. I do hate some of the Kings. But it is mainly because of the amount of douchebaggery and out and out cheating that is allowed on one end and not the other! I can respect the fact that Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty are outstanding hockey players, and I am here and now saying that is a fact.
But it does not mean I have to like how Drew Doughty makes a point of searching out Ben Kuzma of the Province to remind him of how he likes to play the Canucks "because they dive and talk all the time"...AND THE PROCEEDS TO DIVE AND WHINE TO THE OFFICIALS THE ENTIRE GAME !!!!! ( and yes, Drew Doughty is a great diver, just like he is a great player. Any line he gives you on "changing" is out and out bull**** though ) The call he drew on Burrows, he was literally at a 45 - 60 degree angle to the ice before the contact was made. It was pitiful. But again. That is the fault of the ref, for letting Drew fool him. Can we please slay that "narrative" already? Drew dives still, and always will. It's because the refs continue to reward his bad actions. Blame him for having little honour, perhaps. But it is the refs that should know better. Blame them more.
Or maybe Dustin Brown somehow has a Jedi magic trick that enables him to literally make calls,( or have them not called on himself ), for virtually any penalty at any time. It's the only thing that makes sense. The refs literally ignored the definition of clipping to call it on Dan Hamhuis for what was an entirely clean bit of contact ( keep your head up Dustin. Though, maybe that tumbleweed impression and literal refusal to get up until you are sure the call is being made...is it part of the Jedi magic! ? ) on Brown, and he was at least twice on Lack ( maybe once on Luongo ) guilty of goalie interference without a call all night. Again. Not the player's fault the refs suck!
It is incumbent on the refs to call or not call, and they had a decidedly tilted view of this game. Hell, Tom Sestito was getting the "you'll never ever date my daughter you animal" treatment from at least one ref tonight, who batted 1 for 3 on calls gotten right on the big fella. The hell with it. I could point out all sorts of shit about Chris Lee and Rob Martell. They both sucked, and should never have been assigned a game where the divisional and physical rivalry almost guaranteed a game where a real experienced ref was required. ( Sorry, BTW. This is the first game where I have really went off on the reffing. I WON'T make a habit of it, instead, as usual, just pointing out the occasional call that affected the game. Not calling it both ways just pisses me off , and that happened a few times tonight. Sorry for the ref baiting ;-)
The Kings rode a first period ( and part of a second as well ) where Roberto Luongo had a, not bad, just not good game, some aptly timed power plays, and a better effort than the visitors to a win that looked more dominant than it was. In the end, it was a 5-1 victory after all. It's just that the narratives that will be so hard to ignore. Not all of them...but I am guessing this will be called a bit more dominant than it really was. Oh well...let's play a little true or false with some of the ones that come to mind.
1 - The Kings were a dominant team in the second period.
Well, both. True, and False. How is that possible without a tear in time and space? Well, they had the play, and there is no disputing that 3 goals were scored in short order. But they only outshot the visitors 10-9 in that period. Sure, those goals were all in close to the net, and if the Canucks are able to take anything from this one, it is that they were beaten in the areas that they have been the strongest in so far this season. The Kings do play a Big Boy Style ( and no Elliott. I think you are the only talking head on that lousy #HNIC panel of has beens and never wases, but the Kings do not present a "specific match up problem unlike any other team" for the Canucks. At all. That was a stupid statement. They are, more to the point, the same kind of team as the Ducks and Sharks. )...but let us not forget the Canucks were 6-2-3 versus the Kings going into this one, and 2-0-1 or something like that last year. Those aren't the numbers of a team that is getting owned by other guys. Sometimes one team is better on the night. The Kings were tonight, but the margin is less than will be said.
2 - The refs screwed it up. They hate us.
No. I am wrong above, though everything I said is true. ( Huh Dan? ) Let me explain. ( Apart from the venting so my head didn't explode. Some teams just do it to me! ) The refs were wrong on several things, and it helped the Kings win, that they didn't make calls both ways. But they only gave the Kings three power plays, and the Canucks killed them all. It was , in part, the timing of it all. The Canuck power play was looking very good late in the first, and Doughty suckers them with a dive to take them off. They made other mistakes, and seemed to have a huge blind spot in regards to Tom Sestito ( 1- no PIM was called on the hit attempt, so the fight? There should have been an instigator call on Jordan Nolan. That is specifically how it is written in describing what he did after an attempted hit did not draw a call. 2- The second one on TommyBoy, for charging, was literally made without any contact. It was simply not a penalty. Only the 3rd one was worthy of a call. ). No, apart from hating Sestito, they were just incompetent more than any conspiracy or other silliness. The ranting comes more from watching a lifetime of hockey, knowing what I am seeing as a result, and seeing the same sort of things happening both ways, but only being ignored one way...the very large U.S market's way!
3 - The Kings obviously ran the Canucks out of the building. They are too simply too "Big Boy Hockey" for us.
Well, not by hits, according to their own stats guy. The hits were 35 - 34 for the Kings. Hardly crushing. Puck possession? Well, they did have better zone time, but it was not from winning all the draws. They only won that one 29 -28. Hell, the Canucks generated 10 giveaways by the Kings, to only 5 for the visitors. The takeaways? Stats guy says the Kings won that stat 2-1. What the Kings do is what they did really well tonight. It is similar to what the Canucks do, though our guys seem to have a more "all of the ice" game. The Kings play as much as they can along the boards and try not to make cross ice passes in the neutral zone. It is obvious the reason when you think of it. They had to to survive. In the busiest arena in North America, the ice is horrible. ( it looked like they were playing with a tennis ball at times ). Carrying it up the wing, scoring from 2-3 feet in front of the net, that is what they had to adapt to, and the Kings figured it out and perfected it. It is more road hockey than ice hockey, and it counts on therefs not calling the goalie interference they always flirt with, but it can be very effective.
4 - The Canucks defense cannot handle Big Boy Hockey.
On this night, yes. Everyone had their costly mistakes. Dan Hamhuis had a bad first period, and was the goat on the first goal. He was up and down all night, though the refs definitely got it wrong on a hip check he went for on Brown. It was in open ice, and he got the upper thigh all the way. Whatever. He was still a bit better than Garrison ( -2 ) and Edler,( -3, clubhouse leader ) who had a horrible night. Christopher Tanev was a -2, and only had a couple blocks and a hit! Hell, even my guy Ryan Stanton was only an even, with 2 blocks and 3 hits in his 15:15 TOI. Even "Stats" couldn't save us. The Canucks can handle Big Boy Hockey. They play it, for crying out loud. They handled it with aplomb in St Louis and San Jose, and have for most of the early season to date. They just did not handle it that well tonight.
5 - Their forwards were better than ours.
Maybe. Again, this night was a weird one. I firmly believe it easily could have been a different game if the Canucks got an early one or two goals, and they certainly had the chances to do that early. Production wise, of course that is a true statement. The Kings won 5-1 for God's sake! Mike Richard and Toffoli both had 3 point nights. But, again. The Kings were more engaged, and better along the boards, especially in the offensive zone. That is on the forwards and the defenders, and both sets of guys were disjointed and not at their best on this night. You can say that has to do with the pressure. But the Canucks responded to that pressure in other games way better than this one.
6 - It's the goaltending
Mr Quick certainly made the big saves when he had to, but that was mainly in the first. But when you watch the video, the difference is that his defenders gave him for more support around HIS net. Roberto Luongo was not sharp in close, but it was mainly just not being able to battle through the physical play the Kings force upon the goalies of the other team. A lot of their goals looked the same, in close. The difference was that a King defender would be pushing a guy away, or preventing a stick on a puck like Richards did on Burrows disallowed ( rightly ) goal. Both Luongo, struggling, and Lack, strongly most the night, had to get through the traffic to the puck. They usually have better help from a defender or two helping them out, to say nothing of the centres and wingers down low.
So, it obviously sucked by the results. You can go to the links and see the Corsi and Fenwick for who was doing what. You guys know me as a "feel guy", around here, like the coach. We should all keep in mind that once the score was out of hand, our feel coach pulled way way back on the minutes for some guys that will be needed to attempt to bounce back versus the NHL best at home Ducks tomorrow.
Here's a few that stood out though.
Tom Sestito - Yes, I love the guy. Sue me. I know you guys slag him around here. I have seen the advanced stats guys giggle at how horrible he is. Hw was also one of the few guys really going tonight. I already bitched about his PIM troubles, and do think he got picked on for who he is, rather than his play tonight. He was fast and all over the ice. He played 10:16 TOI tonight, and led his team with 6 hits. Maybe "a bit out of control" will be the meme ( that guy Mark Lee certainly pushed that one! ), but he was a gamer.
Kevin Bieksa - He was an even on a night with 5 goals against ( and had an assist, so he must have been on for at least one goal ) 2 of his 3 shots were on net, and all 5 of his hits were with ill intent. He was another that had a great deal of push back, all night, no matter the score. That is important too. Also important? His horrible turnover on the momentum swinging 3rd goal. Still not sure why he reversed that puck, but it was a bad bad play, on a night where there were a few of them.
Alexandre Burrows - He really should have had a goal. The Richards play to tie him up when he tried to kick the puck to his stick was a good one, but he definitely did not dwell on it. He played 17:40, as everyone was down a bit in ice time. Torts managed his bench with tomorrow in mind. But he still managed a -1, 3 of 5 shot attempts on target, 3 blocks, 1 hit, and a giveaway. His give a shit level was decent.
They are just three. The rest the guys had their moments of not giving up and playing hard as well. Even after the coach clearly had decided to cut his losses and save his top players for tomorrow, the team still stayed engaged, and played it out hard. But the better team did win, as often, but not always, happens in our game!
The margin was smaller than the narratives will say tomorrow. No one said the Pacific Division would be easy, right? But take heart Canuck fans. It may have looked bad, but with one or two getting in, as they easily could have early, this one might have had a different ending. Maybe if Lack had started instead of Lui?
Just kidding. We don't need no goalie controversy. FTR though, I would start Eddie Lack tomorrow. He earned it after letting in the first goal on his first shot, on one that really wasn't much his fault either. Hell, he was probably still stretching! ( Torts says below that Lack starts tomorrow. You guys can argue with me, but except for the ref baiting, it sounds like he totally agreed with me on the game below...! ;-)