Game 6 Preview - Canucks @ Kings

Thomas Drance
January 28 2013 12:30PM

This was the scene when the Kings eliminated the Canucks in April of 2012.
Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images

It was a tale of two games this past weekend for the Canucks (as it often is when a team plays two games in one weekend). On Friday in Orange County, the Canucks put in a subpar performance but managed to blowout the Ducks thanks to their clicking power-play and a dominant performance from Cory Schneider. On Sunday, the Canucks actually managed to tighten up defensively and control the game for long stretches at even-strength, but were blown out 4-1 by the Sharks thanks to subpar penalty-killing, excellent goaltending by Antii Niemi's posts, and some brutal turnovers in their own end.

On Monday night the Canucks will play their sixth game in nine days against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings. Surely the short-handed Canucks will be out for a spot of redemption against the team that eliminated them in the first round a season ago, but they've got a tough task ahead of them. The Kings haven't brought their A-Game yet this season, but they remain a formidable club and have mostly been sunk by unsustainably bad goaltending. Also, Drew Doughty and company despise Vancouver's hockey team (like 28 other NHL teams, if we're being honest) so you know they'll be getting up for this one.

Read on past the jump.

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Four Areas Where the Canucks Really Miss Ryan Kesler

Thomas Drance
January 28 2013 09:12AM

Kesler is glum. We miss you too Kes.
Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick/Getty

All you need to do is look over Ryan Kesler's total player charts to understand how critical his presence is for the Canucks. While the Sedins are the "best" players on the Canucks roster, Ryan Kesler is the club's MVP and if we're being honest he has been for several seasons now. Without him, Vancouver is struggling in the early going, and so I figured we'd dive into some areas where Kesler's absence is felt particularly hard if only to scratch our phantom itch.

Read on past the jump.

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Canucks Routed by Sharks, Goal Post: Recap and Chance Data

Thomas Drance
January 27 2013 10:32PM

Cory Schneider fails to smother the puck, as Patrick Marleau ices Sunday night's game.
Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson

You wouldn't be able to tell by the mood of Canucks fans on Twitter or on Team1040 call in shows, but the Canucks put on a better performance on Sunday night against the Sharks than they managed in a blowout win over Anaheim two days prior. Yeah, yeah, the results weren't there and the Canucks laid a legitimate egg in the third period, but for much of the game Vancouver executed their game plan and controlled the proceedings.

Unfortunately for Vancouver's club, a couple of costly unforced errors, some sub-par goaltending, undisciplined play and Antii Niemi's absurd puck-luck cost the Canucks a winnable game. 

Read on past the jump for more.

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Preview - Game 5: Canucks @ Sharks

Thomas Drance
January 27 2013 03:42PM

A classic.
Photo via Matthew Bleadsdale

It took a hurculean effort from Cory Schneider, Aaron Volpatti and the club's special teams unit, but Vancouver recorded their first regulation victory of the season on Friday night in Anaheim. Defensively the Canucks are a work in progress and it's clear that the club misses the play-driving ability of David Booth and Ryan Kesler, but at least a clear game plan has emerged over the course of the team's first four games. 

The Canucks are doing well to control the territorial play and generate shots on net from the blue-line while playing a physical brand of hokkey that has frustrated opponents, and led to copious power-play opportunities for the club's polished first unit and the red-hot Mason Raymond (what?). Unfortunately, Vancouver has struggled to limit quality chances against at even-strength and their usual "ace" shutdown pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa has looked, well, extremely ordinary.

Read on past the jump for a more elaborate preview.

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Party Fowl - Canucks Blowout the Ducks: Recap and Scoring Chance Data

Thomas Drance
January 26 2013 12:40AM

Aaron Volpatti mugs for the camera after icing the game with a second period goal.
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

After being lit up in the first game of the season by the Anaheim Ducks, Cory Schneider - Vancouver's starting goaltender - was out for a little bit of redemption in Friday night's game. He got it, and then some, as he recorded a clean sheet to spoil Anaheim's home-opener.

Shoutouts are something of an over-rated statistic generally speaking. Sometimes goaltenders will make eleven of so saves, five of them difficult and will record one in a game their team completely dominated. That wasn't the case this evening and Cory Schneider's efforts kept Vancouver in the game early, and were critical in a blowout win in which Vancouver's defense didn't look particularly good, frankly.

While the Ducks were clearly the superior squad five-on-five, they were undisciplined, and Vancouver's power-play repeatedly made them pay for their mental errors and occasional thuggish shenanigans. The combination of dominant special teams and air-tight goaltending allowed Vancouver to blowout their opponents in a game that really had no business being so lopsided.

Read on past the jump for a recap and analysis.

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