Future 2011/12 All-Star Aaron Rome Celebrates his GWG on Thursday night.
It was a tale of two halves, as it so often is in hockey.
In the game’s first act, which lasted until the 25th minute of game-play, the Canucks took a commanding three goal lead on the scoreboard and out-chanced the Kings 12 to 3. From then on the Kings took over, partly because Vigneault went to the old "prevent defense," and partly because the Kings are actually a talented team. They ended the game on a 13 to 5 scoring chance run and made the match something of a nail-biter by the final buzzer.
When the clock ticked down to zero, however, the Canucks had won a bit of a strange one. Certainly the team made good use of their full arsenal of hilarious moneypuck skaters: Aaron Rome’s second goal in as many games? An Andrew Ebbett power-play goal? That is both absurd and hilarious. To put this in perspective, the Kings two goals were scored by Richards and Doughty who carry a combined cap-hit of 12.75 million dollars. The Canucks three goal scorers on the other hand were Sami Salo, Andrew Ebbett and Aaron Rome, who carry a combined cap-hit of 3.3 million dollars.
Aaron Rome’s much hyped write-in All Star candidacy has already taken off, but it nearly got launched into the stratosphere when he scored a second goal that was disallowed because Hansen "interfered" with Jonathan Quick. It was definitely a borderline call, but the decision certainly wasn’t outrageous and ultimately didn’t make a difference. You have to hand it to Mike Murphy though, that guy is persistent.
Roberto Luongo pitched his third quality start in his last four games and now has three wins and a .937 save percentage in the month of November. It looks as if the percentages have turned around for the embattled Olympic gold medalist and reputed choker, and I expect him to start the second game of this week’s California back-to-back tomorrow in Orange County.
While Luongo didn’t necessarily have a "lights out" performance (both Gagne and Dustin Brown hit posts in the game) he came up with a number of big saves in the third period to preserve the victory. His biggest stop was not technically a save, but he made an aggressive play on a Kopitar centering pass with less than ten seconds to play that was particularly impressive. The two goals the Kings did score were absolutely filthy, that Doughty shot mid-way through the second period was a jaw-dropper, and there was nothing Luongo could do to stop Mike Richards’ tip late in the third. Even if Luongo’s play didn’t always look smooth, it was clear that the Kings were going to need something "special" to beat him.
Luongo played well, but the biggest factor in the Canucks victory was not their goaltender. The club’s special teams came through in a big way for the second straight game as the Canucks capitalized on two of six power-play opportunities, and managed to kill off five of six LA power-plays. The Canucks have now killed off 42 of 44 opposition power-plays since Ryan Kesler’s return to the lineup and have capitalized 16 times on their last 57 power-play opportunities. Though both special teams units are bound to regress to some extent, if the Canucks can regularly post a positive differential on special teams, they’ll pick up a lot of wins between now and April.
The Kings are a talented club, however, they might as well have brought a white-flag to the Staples Center tonight. I was amazed by the way they comported themselves in that first period. Did they not see any highlights or game tape of what happened to the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday? The Kings took a major penalty, and Doughty added an inexcusably stupid cross-checking minor to put his team down by two-men in the first half of the first period. Against a veteran team that excels on the power-play like the Canucks, that sort of immaturity is going to cost you most often then not.
Final thought: The LA Galaxy brought the MLS cup to the Staples Center tonight. This is the second time on this current road trip that the home team has scheduled an "honour another franchise in the city whom have recently scored a championship victory" night to coincide with a visit from last season’s Stanley Cup bridesmaid. If this is intentional on the part of clubs like the Kings and the Blues, then they deserve kudos for achieving excellence in trolling.
Here’s your advanced stat tables courtesy Vic Ferrari and timeonice.com.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20220
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