With Henrik Sedin back in Vancouver for treatment, and Chris Tanev out day to day, tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings would prove to be a stiff test for the Canucks' kids. The Vancouver Canucks showed some spirit, even outhitting the Kings 28-25 on the night. But with LA setting up for another Stanley Cup run, and the Canucks in the early stages of a rebuild, the game was a bit of a mismatch. Though it was not as much a mismatch as it might have been.
The Los Angeles Kings wore their gold uniforms with purple trim. They never should have changed from this design. These are much more regal than the black and white uniforms of today.
There was lots of continuous action to start. LA had the better of the pressure and the shots in the first half of the period. Only the Brendan Gaunce - Bo Horvat - Derek Dorsett line had sustained possession in the Kings zone. While Los Angeles built an 8-4 shot advantage by midway through the period, the Vancouver Canucks by and large matched their effort. Alex Burrows was especially noticeable. On the offensive side, he turned on the jets to get a clear shot on Jonathan Quick.
Shoots, stopped, swarmed pic.twitter.com/zz71HinKkF— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 8, 2016
And in the defensive zone, he stretched out to knock the puck off Tyler Toffoli's stick.
Burrows vs. everybody pic.twitter.com/2gcWap9Vto— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 8, 2016
The excellent pace and good puck movement continued on both sides. But Kings are solid in their own zone, with the possible exception of the Luke Schenn - Brayden McNabb pairing which has problems with speed.
Emerson Etem and Linden Vey were sprung on a 2 on 1 after a great pass from Daniel Sedin. Etem was hooked by Luke Schenn. Vancouver had a lot of trouble gaining the zone on the resultingpower play and didn't score.
Still, Jake Virtanen's physicality kept Drew Doughty honest, and this young Canucks lineup has speed to burn.
With 2:38 left in the first, Ryan Miller robbed Jeff Carter point blank.
One minute into the second, Alex Burrows and Jake Muzzin were called for coincidental minors -- Burrows for holding the stick, Muzzin for hooking (?). The Canucks got a goal during the four on four. Dan Hamhuis slipped behind Tyler Toffoli and scored after Daniel Sedin and Linden Vey combined for some nifty passes to keep the puck in the Kings end.
Plays like that by Vey will go a long way with Willie. Kept puck in, got it to Daniel, took return pass and found pinching Hamhuis. #Canucks— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) March 8, 2016
#Canucks Linden Vey with points in 5 of last 8 games. With assist tonight, he has 5 points in last 6 games. On a decent run here.— Cam Tucker (@CamTucker_Metro) March 8, 2016
Manic times in the Canucks end shortly after the Hamhuis tally, as Jake Virtanen missed two chances to clear the zone, and LA set up shop in the Canucks zone. Though Luca Sbisa broke his stick and Ryan Miller scrambled around his crease, the Kings couldn't score.
Alex Burrows drew an interference penalty. The resulting power play had a couple shots, but no goals. With two straight power plays. I sense some game management penalties to come.
Kings scored at 9:53, when Doughty's shot trickled through Ryan Miller and neither Sbisa nor Markus Granlund could keep the puck from crossing the goal line.
Kopitar's stick check of Granlund as the puck rolled to the line was masterful.— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 8, 2016
Alex Burrows tripped Brayden McNabb at 10:50, so right after the Kings tied they game they went on the power play. Their power play zone entry is effortless compared to Vancouver's. Anze Kopitar scored on a shot from the right face off circle as Tanner Pearson screened Miller. Two goals in under two minutes.for the Kings, who had an 8-3 shot advantage to that point in the period.
Playing with the lead, Los Angeles ramped up the physical play. Maybe too much, as Trevor Lewis took a penalty for elbowing Jared McCann. While this Canucks power play had potential, it didn't connect. Sven Baertschi looked really good on the first power play unit, though.
Matt Bartkowski sprung Brendan Gaunce and Markus Granlund on a two on one. Quick made a save, but Trevor Lewis knocked the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. While the Canucks had more pressure, and Linden Vey looked strong, Tyler Toffoli's shorthanded rush caused the Canucks some confusion, leading to a too many men penalty. The already weak Canucks defense, undermanned as it has been all year, didn't make Los Angeles pay any kind of price for entering the zone. Maybe Nikita Tryamkin can help.
Vancouver defence is far too gentlemanly.— Lee Powell (@leepowellST) March 8, 2016
Los Angeles started with the remainder of their too many men power play, but did not score. The Canucks came on once five on five play resumed.
Brayden McNabb crushed Ben Hutton in what was admittedly a beautiful, old-fashioned perfectly timed hip check. Thankfully, Hutton sprang right back up.
THEY'RE TARGETING THE CHILDREN pic.twitter.com/GAJDCYnDbv— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 8, 2016
Sven Baertschi had a good opportunity, as did Jake Virtanen, who forced Quick to make a point-blank save. Brendan Gaunce got control of the puck in the LA end and centered it to Linden Vey, who put it off Quick's mask.
Good battle down low in offensive zone by gaunce.— Lee Powell (@leepowellST) March 8, 2016
But Los Angeles plays such a disciplined game with the lead. Vancouver's excursions into the Kings' zone became shorter and shorter. The Canucks were able to work the puck in less and less deep.
Anze Kopitar kept the puck from going deep into the LA zone, chipped it past Sbisa to Jeff Carter, who scored on the rush. Miller stopped Carter's seven previous shots, but could not keep out the eighth. That made it 3-1 Kings.
Off the rush into the Kings' zone, Dorsett fought Brayden McNabb, perhaps payback for McNabb's hit on Henrik Sedin earlier in the year.
Vincent Lecavalier put the Kings up 4-1 when his shot from a distance trickled through Miller.
That's a bad save 4-1.— Lee Powell (@leepowellST) March 8, 2016
Los Angeles took a penalty and Willie Desjardins pulled the goalie part way through, with over five minutes left in the third.
Canucks did not score on the power play, and Willie kept Miller pulled. Matt Barkowski tried to pass the puck through the middle of the Canucks zone and through a bundle of players. Jeff Carter picked it off and scored on the empty net. 5-1 Los Angeles, and the Canucks seemed ready to head home.
Bartkowksi just wanted to thread that pass through 3 Kings with an empty net 10 feet away. Bad idea?— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 8, 2016
Have watched Bartkowski all season.— Brook Ward (@realbrookward) March 8, 2016
If this the player he is, then he has to go.
Once again, the young Canucks team came out in the first and looked impressive. But as the game went on, especially after the Kings got the lead, the Canucks just couldn't match one of the top teams in the NHL.The final score -- 5-1 -- is perhaps a tad harsh, given that the Canucks seemed to hang with Los Angeles until early in the third. But when even John Garrett describes the goaltending as ordinary, you know if's not nearly good enough.
Gaunce showed promise tonight. Vey was outstanding and Baertschi and Etem had their moments.
Vancouver is back at it on Wednesday at Rogers Arena against the Arizona Coyotes, an opponent more in the Canucks current weight class.
so let's see if I have this straight: combo of Quick, Doughty, Kopitar & Carter better than what #Canucks had at their disposal tonight— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 8, 2016
thought Gaunce had a decent night in limited role for #Canucks. Still trying to get a handle on Granlund and where he slots in— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 8, 2016