You’re never gonna score if you put your stick there, Henrik.
The Kings and Canucks are tied at 1 win each in their best-of-seven series, and now head to California to play games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.
The first two games of this series were very close, both going to overtime, both scores 3-2, with each team taking one victory. The Canucks biggest problem through the first two games was a lack of discipline, and paying the price for it. While some suggest that the officiating has been erratic and inconsistent, the Canucks have still been guilty of taking far too many penalties. These mistakes are costing the Canucks dearly as the Kings, who have scored only 5 goals in the first two games, have scored 4 powerplay goals. And the biggest culprit has been Andrew Alberts. His stats are shocking and telling – He’s taken 23 minutes in penalties and only played 17:32. That is just terrible. The Canucks cannot support that lack of discipline from one player and expect to be successful in this series or throughout the playoffs.
Now, some would argue that the only reason why Alberts even played in the first two games was because Aaron Rome was hurt. Rome, who has steadily improved throughout his time as a Canuck, looks to draw back into the lineup as he appears to have recovered from his injury. Furthermore, a healthy Nolan Baumgartner is also available as a scratch. One has to think that, barring disaster, Alberts has played his last playoff game for the Canucks this year. Given the fact that the Canucks need to improve their discipline, there is a good case to be made for getting Baumgartner in the lineup. Baumer took only one minor penalty in 12 GP for the Canucks, and was a +7. Those are impressively responsible numbers for a fill-in defenseman. Aaron Rome’s numbers weren’t bad, and they certainly improved through the year. Meanwhile they both had similar average ice time, with Rome at 15:10 per game, and Baumgartner at 14:12. They also have basically the same amount playoff experience… NONE. Baumer has played 3 post-season games to Rome’s 2.
While the Canucks discipline has been the primary issue, their offense has also been lacking. Now, one could argue that the offense has been lacking because the Canucks have had to kill off so many penalties, which is very true. However, the Canucks had the 2nd most potent offense at home, so they should have been able to overcome those player deficits. In fact, I think this offense needs to come from the defense. The Canucks played a great game in Game 1, despite killing so many penalties, and that had to do with their aggressive forecheck and pressure in the offensive zone. So if the Canucks can continue the offensive pressure they will see the same success that they did in Game 1.
Can the Canucks come back from LA with the split… or better? Will it be Rome or Baumgartner in for Alberts tonight? Will Alain Vigneault juggle the lines to get more offense rolling?
We’ll find out at 7 PM tonight!