When everyone was saying that the Kings were dangerous, I was one that agreed, but went, "come on, the Canucks have TWO excellent goaltenders". This is a top offensive team in the NHL, even without the now very obviously bad loss of Daniel Sedin to that asshole Duncan Keith's attempt at elbow dentistry. Maybe he would not have helped score tonight. But it would not have hurt!
I was always a little worried about Quick though. The guy had a GAA under two, and that is never a good thing for a team needing a goal. I thought that perhaps his bad performances in playoffs past would be the difference. Evidently, the young man has learnt how to get past that. Jonathan Quick is an excellent goaltender. It definitely helps that the Kings play a defensive style so severe that a shock goes off in their collars when they hit the red line, but you have to give it to them. They got the one goal, and then battened down the hatches in front of their goaltender. He made 41 saves. Thats impressive no matter how shitty the ice, or how zealously the five other skaters fall back around the net.
Now, to the more contentious stuff. Just be quiet Kings fans. Its decidedly gauche to try and make a thing of "diving" when you have three of the worst in the league at it in Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, and Drew Doughty. All three have reputations at least the equal of Kesler, and in Doughty's case, he is far more notorious. Richards pulled a horrible dive when the Canucks were on a power play, and you all cheered like loons when it worked (its called "gamesmanship" then though). Yes, we all saw what happened with Ryan Kesler. It was about the only time in the game he went down easy, and he had been cross checked three times. It deserved a penalty. Trying to ignore that kind of thing in your own team while whining about it for the other team is maddening. Yes, diving is bad. In the playoffs, it is also rife. Watch some other games and see how often it happens. Watch your own team without the purple glasses on, and you have to admit that it happens every night. I know that we have admitted that here! Its a lazy narrative, and its wrong unless it cuts both ways.
Focus on your team being up 3-0. Thats the big thing. Really, enough of the narrative building. ( I don't totally blame you sometimes however. Hell, our national broadcaster is worse at it versus our team than the local US one! ) All three of the above had more than one time where they fell to the ice looking for the call. But by all means, lets show Kes' hitting the ice multiple times and ignore that. It has to be said. The "this guy dives" or "that one dives worse" is specious and silly. Hockey is a game played at high speed, with colliding bodies, unbelievable speed, and by the best athletes in the world. Not every time a guy falls off that less than a 1/2 inch of steel that he is on ( On BOTH sides, in ALL games ) is a dive, an embellishment, or anything else. Sometimes its just a guy falling down.
The above is what I am talking about. That is the post game after this win, and what are they talking about? How a snowshower was not called with 21 seconds left! Credit Jimmy Fox for basically saying STFU...Lets keep rolling with the controversial elements of the game though. I had no problem with the contact by Brown on Henrik Sedin. I did, however, think it was dirty. He knew exactly what he was doing, it was a turn of a couple degrees by the elder Sedin from being a blindside hit, and the puck was gone. That last one is the most crucial, and evidently the refs felt that it was not gone long enough. Its a judgement call, so they made one. It could have just as easily, with another ref, been called a penalty. But it was still dirty, and Burrows and Bieksa did well jumping in there. I also think that it was a far less big a deal as the TV fellows telling me right now that it must have been. There were a ton of huge hits in this game, and the pundits picking this one as somehow more important is just lazy. It was a hard hit, and the captain missed a shift, and then came back and had a shift of 2:31 his first one back from the room. Hank is one tough Swede. You can see that he would be better with his brother in the game. But he is not. That is a tough thing for this team that is built on balance and their Twin Superstars leading them in scoring. There can be no denying his push, his leadership, and his will to play hard. Yes, 1 shot of 2 attributed on net, and only 5 of 18 ( he was a little better than that, sometimes in other rinks the 50/50 draws are just given to the home team ) on draws does not make it seem that impressive. The team being dangerous when he was out there is.
- You can go read about the goaltending of Quick and such on the sister sites that work the California beat. I acknowledge his great game and all, but for me, the guy that had a wonderful game was Willie Mitchell. Apart from the brain fart of cross checking Kesler ( yes, I know...it was way after the whistle, and a pretty dumb call to take ), he was the main reason why Quick could look so good. He prevented a couple probable goals on Booth and Burrows in front with his big stick. He was awesome along the boards all night. He even jumps up and pinches more than he did here. Another guy the stats don't tell the whole story about. 2 hits, 2 giveaways, and 3 blocks seems almost like an insult for all the good things he did to help his team win. Even if I dislike a couple guys on that douchey team, I will always be a fan of Big Stick Willie. He's killing us with his excellent reads.
- I feel bad for Alexander Edler. Everyone knows he is better than he has been playing, and he was not that horrible tonight. Most of his 4 hits were big ones, and while only 1 of 5 shots attempts were on net, I think a couple of those were wide on purpose for the bank off the boards. The only call of the game I thought was a little light was the one he took on Richards ( big surprise there ), but it was a penalty, so whatever. The pass up the boards in the final two minutes that flew too high was a bad break. and more a function of the ice being atrocious than anything else, but that will be blamed on him by those trying to figure out someone to blame while waiting for Wednesday. He has not done himself any favours in this series, however.
- The goal. Being as it was the only one scored, it was obviously a big one. So, lets start up the blame train. Manny got himself tossed. Samuel Pahlsson lost the draw. Manny had a chance along the boards to get it out, and the guy that took the shot could have been checked better. The guy that they will see diving was Edler, so he will get blamed for not picking up Brown. Thats a little tough. He was covering beside his goalie, I think expecting the direction of the rebound to come right to him. The Williams shot was maybe the only rebound that got away from Cory Schneider all night. The fact that Brown had been hit in the corner just before helped him get lost a little bit, and he made good on the break. You will excuse me if I do not run down everyone involved to the Nth degree. When you control the game territorially, and have 41 shots, while the opposition has half that, one goal should not be enough. The Kings executed on one of the few times they had sustained pressure in the Canucks' end all night. Good for them.
- Ryan Kesler played a solid game, and so did David Booth. But you have to say that, even with their simple power game, playing on ice that was covered by the Lakers floor up to a couple hours before game time is not the way that the Stanley Cup playoffs should be decided. It was quite disgusting to watch. Honestly, I would not doubt that the Kings built their team, and hired their coach, for just this type of game. No one knows better, 41 times a season, how things happen on that ice. The puck looked like a tennis ball all night long. That makes it tough for shooters to pick corners, when the puck is not flat. The Kings blocked 23 shots, but the Canucks missed 18 ( Hansen had 6 misses tonight! ). I guarantee you that more than half of those were a direct result of the bullshit of playing hockey in a rink with two other tenants that get the prime spots to begin with. Without making it seem like bitching, that was the worst ice I have seen in watching hockey a LOT this year, and all of the playoff games. Hell, LA, Miami has way better ice than you guys!
- The AMEX line. They were held in check most of the night. Ryan Kesler was doing his best, and played a pretty focused game. He had 4 shots, 2 blocks, 2 hits, and was the best faceoff man on either team, going 17 of 25 on draws. David Booth was very focused, blowing people up on all 4 hits he was given by the stats guy ( seems light son, I thought he hit more people than that! ), and while he only had 1 shot, he was one of the best at driving the net and staying there. Chris Higgins may have had his least noticeable game in a while. 2 hits. Thats it. He was strong on the boards in spurts here and there, but this was not a game the Professor will remember kindly.
- So, does Cory Schneider start Game 4? He was pretty amazing on the 3 on 1 in the first. It must be tough to keep your focus when facing 5 shots and one of them is like that one. The Kings got 6 shots in a second period where they had plenty of PP or 4 on 4 time. When not on the power play, those shock collars were up to max. Dumped pucks were mainly chased down by one guy. Thats a tough style for a goaltender to play against if he likes to work. We have seen it from Roberto Luongo, where he likes a lot of shots. For me, he did not play his way out of the net, but there is really no bad answer to that question. The problem for the Canucks is not scoring. Mr Quick was a big part of that tonight. But he had some help. Honestly, they tried to pick corners all night, and were missing the net on bouncing pucks. Shit happens. The space is always there. The guy is all about covering the bottom, and does so well. But the top half of the net is there, and if the Canucks can exploit that, we will see a Game 5 at the Rog'. If not, then the most interesting offseason in recent memory will be one that will put Canucks fans and their team through their paces. You know that the TEAM folks are giving the post game show ALL the answers at this very moment of writing ( I can't listen...ugggh )
How bad is a back to back top team in the NHL? Are injuries ( the one to Daniel, mainly ) all it is? Only 3 teams have come back from down 0-3, and right now, the two teams that were the odds on favorites to meet in the Final are still winless while having their backs against the wall. Its been a wild playoffs so far, but both the Penguins and the Canucks could not pull off what the Flyers did in 2010, could they? Well, if not, the hell with Sid and his team. Lets make some history boys...
Congrats to the Kings on a huge win. It will be tough to beat this team 4 games straight now. But, if anyone can do it, the Canucks can. The Kings are playing their system well, and the Vancouver team is not helping themselves with the lack of scoring. But the fourth is the toughest to win for a reason. Hell, they can take inspiration from the Hawks last year in the first round...right...right? Bueller? Bueller?