Canucks Army Postgame: The Kings Provide us with a Friendly Reminder

Luongo is in disbelief at his team’s performance, and I don’t blame him. [via @SchneidersTeeth]

Let’s not sugarcoat it: the Vancouver Canucks got thoroughly outclassed by their opponent on Saturday night. The list of positives for the Canucks is a pretty short one following this game, with pretty much just one name cracking it. For a while there it looked like Roberto Luongo – who really stood on his head all night, showing no ill effects as he made his return from a groin injury which had sidelined him for 4 games – might be able to steal the two points for his team, but he could only hold the fort for as long before the floodgates finally opened.

In the preview today we took a look at the 5-game losing streak the Los Angeles Kings were in the midst of, nothing that while they were losing, they were still playing at a high level and dominating their opposition. It was much of the same in this one for them, as they dominated the Canucks pretty handily from the 12:27 mark of the 1st period onwards, yet still trailed heading into the 3rd. This time around, though, they were finally able to break through following a few unfortunate defensive breakdowns by their opponent.

The final result – 3-1, with the final tally coming via an empty netter – doesn’t necessarily look all that bad, especially considering the stature of the LA Kings. But I’d say that the way this game unfolded served as somewhat of a reminder that just because 1 point separates these two teams in the standings doesn’t mean that they’re on the same level.

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The Rundown

Things actually started out pretty decently for the Canucks, as they tested Jonathan Quick – who was also making his return to action from a groin injury – with a couple of quality scoring chances. But Quick looked fairly sharp and spry, and with some help from the referees (who were awfully quick to blow a play dead when he looked to be in trouble on the goal line) was able to keep the puck out. 

There was a lot of talk heading into this game about how the Canucks had spent a large chunk of their practice on Friday working on the power play, trying to do anything they could to get it out of its 1-for-19 doldrums over the past 7 games. And thanks to some exquisite passing by the Sedins, they were able to do just that to open up the scoring (and in turn provide a false ray of hope to their fans):

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Here’s the thing.. while it’s nice that Hamhuis is off of the top unit, it’s still pretty easy to tell from the eye test that the plan the Canucks are heading into these man advantages with is horribly flawed. What we saw as the game went on was a whole lot of perimeter passing between the Sedins and Garrison, as they were all up high and far away from any sort of dangerous scoring position.

I honestly don’t know what needs to happen for a) Ryan Kesler to be moved up high (considering he’s one of the two guys on the current incarnation of the team with a dangerous shot..), and b) people that run the Canucks to realize that Daniel Sedin isn’t a good option on the point. It’s rather infuriating at this point because judging by my timeline on Twitter it appears that most people have come to these realizations, yet the one’s being paid to make the adjustments aren’t..

Anyways, it was after this goal that the Kings really took control of the game and did pretty much whatever they wanted to. Roughly a minute into the 3rd period they finally got on the board themselves following some lackluster coverage in the DZ by the Canucks, as Dustin Brown was able to waltz towards the net and put the rebound past Luongo with ease. Only Mike Santorelli was in the area, and even he seemed to give it a half-hearted effort. Following the play Brown went into Luongo, and while you could make the argument that his momentum took him into the goaltender, it’s no secret to anyone that has seen Brown play before that did everything he could to ensure that he followed through on the play. It’s amazing how many of these unfortunate accidents one man can find himself being part of, eh?

I should point out that nary a single Canuck really did anything to get into Brown’s face following the play, to even instill a shred of doubt in his mind as to whether he’d want to do something like that again were he to be presented with the opportunity. A few minutes later, after Tom Sestito made a B-line towards Jonathan Quick, nearly every Kings player on the roster went after him, starting a big kerfuffle. I don’t necessarily put too much stock into this – and the differences between the two teams in how they handle their business – but I did think it was interesting, and that I’d be remiss were I to not make a reference to it.

The Kings took the lead 12:05 into the final frame when Dwight King flat-out outworked Jason Garrison in getting to the puck, and finding Jeff Carter who went on to do Jeff Carter things (no, not that thing, but the other thing.. scoring goals). Garrison certainly will never be mistaken for being the fleetest of foot, and he can sometimes look a tad bit glacial when he’s asked to move in close quarters, but this particular play struck as more lazy than anything else. Or maybe he’s just tired, as he has seen his minutes increase exponentially over the past few weeks. Regardless, he got burned, and his partner Kevin Bieksa did nothing to bail him out, instead taking a leisurely stroll on the play as he has been known to do on occasion.

The Canucks nearly tied the game up in the dying moments thanks to a brilliant play by Henrik Sedin to get it to Daniel, but he wasn’t able to beat Quick, who for all the jokes I make about him looked good in this one when called upon. The only reason the Sedins were even able to muster up this opportunity to tie it was because of a fortunate offside (that negated an empty netter for the Kings). The bench called for Luongo to leave the net for the extra attacker once the Canucks got control of the puck in their own zone, but Henrik Sedin made a brutal stretch pass that got picked off and made its way in the back of the net. ‘Twas a pretty embarrassing moment, which the Canucks were spared of relieving thanks to the stoppage in play.

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The Numbers


The shot attempts were 14-13 for the Canucks following Ryan Kesler’s power play tally. After that, the Kings went on to absolutely clobber them by a 48-25 margin (which includes the late barrage by the Canucks as they threw everything but the kitchen sink in an attempt to tie it up). The Kings out-attempted the Canucks 34-13 between the Kesler goal and Brown’s goal to make it 1-1, which just goes to show you how spectacular Roberto Luongo was on this night. 

No single member of the Kings was under the 50% Corsi For plateau in this game, with Alec Martinez bringing up the rear at exactly 50%. Anze Kopitar’s line with Jeff Carter was on the ice for 20 attempts for, and only 11 against. Unfortunately I don’t have the scoring chance totals in front of me, but I’d assume their differential in that regard would be stellar, too, since they came real close to scoring a handful of times. Surprise surprise, it was the King of Corsi, Justin Williams, who had a whopping 21-7 differential to his name, as he and Dustin Brown put in work. 

On the other end of the spectrum, pretty much everything went wrong for the Canucks on this front. Basically everyone was a tire fire and then some. David Booth had the high water mark for the Canucks with a 11-11 differential. Zac Dalpe and Dale Weise were on the ice for 1 shot attempt for, and 13 against.. which seems unfathomably bad. Weise in particular looked horrid, as there was one particular instance where he looked unwilling to take a hit to make a play, which is a big no no (especially when that’s your freakin’ job!).

The Sedins were neutralized for the most part by the lethal combination of Doughty and Kopitar, but it Kesler’s line which really let the Canucks down. They were fed a handful of minutes against the anchor known as Robyn Regehr, and were still unable to really get anything going all night (posting a sub-40% CF%).


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The Conclusion

Things, unfortunately, don’t get much easier for the Canucks. They have a quick turnaround with a 5PM PST date with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks tomorrow evening. While it’s no secret to anyone that keeps up with the analytical side of hockey coverage (a group which I’d assume you fall into, considering you’re reading this post) that the Ducks aren’t necessarily good as their superficial numbers and record would indicate, they’re still no pushover. If the Canucks play like they did tonight they’ll get steamrolled again.

The Ducks are 12-1 in their last 13 games, and they’ll have been resting up at home, waiting for the Canucks to come into town tired after having played a grueling game against the Kings. Given Luongo’s heavy workload I’d assume that Lack will be getting the call for this one. 

After Sunday, the Canucks head home for 2 games, but they’re against the Penguins and Blues, so it’s not like it’s a walk in the park. And then they head back to California for the Kings/Ducks combo yet again. The next 2 weeks sure will be fun, you guys! Try to stay positive and smile a little, like ol’ Dan Hamhuis..

[Image via Schneider’s Teeth again]

  • Brent

    Very disappointing. They need a way to deal with the heavy forecheck, kept them hemmed in. Even though the goals were scored on the rush, that was really the difference in the fenwick. They have the same problem with San Jose, so they need to figure it out before the playoffs, unless they get lucky and get Chicago.

  • argoleas

    That game was of the ugly variety.

    What’s it gonna take to get Hansen off the twins line?
    What is gonna take to get Dank off the point?
    What it’s gonna take for Torts to stop using only 3-4 dmen every night?

    The game was out of reach. Ok. I realize that. I know LA, Chi and SJS are on a different playing field than Canucks. But Canucks are still a really good team. They shouldn’t have been dominated like they were tonight. The Sedins got crushed, Keslers line got crushed for what seems like the 4th consecutive game. The Sedins PPG are at an all time low. What’s it gonna take for Torts to switch up the lines that clearly aren’t working?

    Hansen is decent with the twins. But Kassian is a better option. If it doesn’t work, go back to Hansen. But give Kassian a chance. This is ridiculous. I’m actually begging for AV back here folks.

    For the all things people think Torts does well, I ask: what’s the difference from when AV was here. There are no differences of this team from last yr to this yr. Their near identical records reflect that. Tanev got a bigger role on the back end – that’s the only positive. Kassian’s getting Ballard treatment from Torts (even thought he doesn’t deserve it). Corrado saw more TOI under AV than Torts, and this team is exactly where it was 1 year ago. Poised for an early playoff exit.

    Hate to sound so negative, but it’s just the reality. This team is good, but it’s a reminder LA and it’s buddies are miles ahead of every one else.

    • Brent

      If the results are going to be the same. I’d much rather watch our current style than AV hockey. Results are more dependent on the roster than coach (It’s not like AV was a bad coach), so it’s not surprising we look so far away when we’re missing Burrows and Edler. Be interesting to see if Torts makes Santorelli that 3rd line C we’ve been missing when everyone’s healthy. Burrows, Edler and Schroeder all skating, so I guess we’ll find out soon.

      For all the people wanting to trade Edler: what about Garrison? Looking a little overpaid. Maybe suffering without a steady partner and playing on his offside most of the time, but he doesn’t look a good fit. Might be worth pairing Garrison and Corrado together to see if there’s anything there. Hamhuis-Tanev and Bieksa-Stanton look fixed when healthy. If that pair works out, you’re free to trade Edler, or move him to the wing…

  • Brent

    Having all-world goaltender Jonathan Quick back in net for the Kings certainly didn’t help matters here for the Canucks. Not that Jones and Scrivens are anything to sneeze at either.

  • Brent

    That game does remind me that when the going gets tough the Sedins disappear. They have not been first line produces all season and resigning them now seems like a major mistake. Last night showed this team can’t generate consistent offence against the best teams in the league and there isn’t anyone right now in the organization that can turn this around. The decline of this team is blatantly obvious as it is slowly creeping in to the Calgary zone of hanging on for legitimacy.

    • FlamesRule

      And insanity may very well be on the menu again next year with pending raises to Tanev, Santorelli, Kassian & Weise quite possibly eating every last dollar of the cap increase.

      The Canucks aren’t creeping into Calgary territory.

      They are already there.

      And there’s little reason to believe the team is going to win a playoff series this year or next as currently constructed…

      • argoleas

        I would not go there just yet. Just because the team has been terrible over the last few games does not negate their excellent December. Lets see the totality of January before pressing the predictable panic button.

        I will be here to state that resigning Santorelli will be a mistake. He is valuable now because he comes cheap, but he is not a top-six forward and he does not address the size problem the team will have once again if they make the playoffs. BTW, that also goes for Hansen. Next year a fat Santorelli contract would occupy a space that should be occupied by a cheaper farmhand.

        Definitely resign Tanev. His play has been excellent and still improving. I dont anticipate Kassian getting much of a raise, unless his play keeps improving at a rate higher than he already is. As for Weise, seems that this is another case of someone that should be replaced by a cheaper farmhand.

        • argoleas

          And what about October and November?

          And what about the possession numbers that have been slipping (although the FenTied remains perfectly middling)?

          And what about the fatigue levels of the top players as they play minutes well above that to which they are accustomed?

          And what about relying on goaltending as though it were 2007?

          It’s not panic.

          It’s simply accepting reality as this team continues its descent into mediocrity with little reason to expect this team to be any better next year…

          • argoleas

            No one is denying there are issues, especially with fatigue being a big one, especially in my estimation on Garrison and Bieksa. And we will see how it will continue to affect them. Also, we will see how their times change over the next 4 months. Also, most of the players on the team will be getting a break in December (including those 2 I mentioned above). Hate to be selfish, but hope that Hamhuis is not selected for the Olympic team.

            But overall, the team is still in the running pointswise, and again, lets see what January provides for us.

            And you know very well that the showing in October and to a lesser degree in November, can be easily ascribed to the team learning a new system, so that is not a conclusive statement about the team’s level. One can easily state that the team finally got the system ingrained and went on a predictable good run in December. So the team has three lousy games (I would add that even the Calgary win was not impressive), and suddenly it panic time? Maybe, but if they have a set of good games in the next week, will that change? Or do we wait for the next bad run to wave our hands in despair once again? I dont know. Lets see how the next weeks and months pan out

  • andyg

    My biggest worry about this year was that under new coaching this team might play well enough that ownership might be willing to trade the future (prospects and draft picks) for one last attempt to make a playoff run.

    Games like this helps to reinforce the fact that we need to have a lot more grit to get through the west. not something a trade or two will solve. The next few games will be interesting to watch.

    • argoleas

      If they end up doing a Roy type of trade, then we can still live with that (hopefully with better results). But if they trade their few blue chip prospects for a rental, then that would be a disaster.

      The biggest problem that I saw in the LA game was the little pushback from the team except from Testido. I found it absolutely unforgivable that the team did not respond to Luongo being run like that, over and over again. The team played like it was shell-shocked and begging for mercy. I too saw that Weise bail (and he was not the only one) and it was pathetic. If Torts is running a meritocracy, Weise should be benched for that.

  • argoleas

    Canucks showed flashes and it was a tight game. The Canucks aren’t terrible and are a good team but the division is one of the better ones in the game. They’re not far off from being a contending team but the missing pieces aren’t readily available nor are they ready to come up from the farm.

    Hansen should be on line 3. Has lots of tools but isn’t your game breaker/offensive force. Time to try others out with the Sedins. At this rate, I don’t know why they don’t break them up for longer periods of time and let some new combos develop chemistry.

    Canucks have solid goalies, solid D but the offense isn’t there. Not for a contending team. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Canucks miss the playoffs and less surprised if they got bounced in round 1 of the playoffs if they do get into the postseason party. Whatever the outcome, I’ll be there cheering!

    • andyg

      This is a good team but not good enough to win a cup. In this city now that is what counts.

      I think we are missing 3 pieces to get us there. But they are players that no one will trade you.

      We need a big defensive D man who can play 20 min a game and handle the bigger forwards in the west.(a bit nasty would be nice) A big winger to replace Booth. (a Bobby Ryan type) Also a big defensive center who can play 10 to 15min a game. ( not Dalpe but maybe some day Lain)

      Not going to find that at the trade deadline.

      • argoleas

        Dan Girardi will be available at the deadline. Check. Matt Moulson, Brad Boyes, and Nik Kulemin (what Booth was supposed to be, what we had before, and what we have now, respectively) will be available at the deadline. Check. Steve Ott, Brian Boyle, Derek McKensie (and probably Manny) will also be available. Check.

        Will Vancouver get any of the above? I’d give 50% +/- for one; but we don’t have enough depth for all 3 ‘needs’ you outline.

        There is an outside chance at Girardi & Boyle; but it would have to include Edler going the other way (plus another asset…), and he has an NTC. Would he waive that to play for AV? Would GMMG shop a player with an NTC who took a hometown discount? Would the ‘Nucks make the deal without pre-negotiating a new contract for Girardi? That’s a lot of question marks…

    • argoleas

      It was a tight game simply because LA can’t score to save their lives. They outshot the Canucks by a 2-1 margin. You want to call that close, but that’s simply not true. Flashes are for women going through menopause, not for a hockey team with alleged designs on a Stanley Cup.

      Look, we all know this two week stretch is the true barometer of where this team is at. Last night (for the third time against this team) showed that when push comes to shove, this team gets pushed and shoved.

      How you don’t jump Brown after he accidental-on purpose runs over your team’s star goalie in that game is beyond me. You have everything to prove to the Kings, and all you show them by doing nothing is that you are intimidated by them. How about some accidental on purpose vacations in J-Quick’s business? No? That would mean taking an undisciplined penalty? Go cry me a river or act like men and run the damn goalie. Cowards.

  • andyg

    This game is the reason I have concerns over the Canucks even making the playoffs! The tone of the article was that the Canucks play soft and they did last night. Lazy back checks, not standing up for your goalie basically sitting back and being a pinching bag. Reminds me of the Simpsons when homer was a boxer and would just take a beating until his opponent got tired! except no moe to step in and save the day. I don’t know why but this team goes through waves of compete levels. Two week stretch laying it on the line then phoning it in for two weeks.injuries are a concern but the lack of competitive play is very frustrating. We fans buy tix and sports packages to watch these guys….. The least they could do is give a descent effort. As a Canuck that lives in LA, the biggest difference between Kings and Canucks is effort. No matter what Sutters team plays hard.

  • argoleas

    I don’t know who is calling the Canucks a contender. Not me, that’s for sure.


    I somewhat agree with your needs list. Personally, I think the #1 need is a sniper for line 1. We have to get Hansen and Higgins out of the top 6. Higgins is a very good #7 forward.

    The defence is passable. We’re not getting a Shea Weber etc and the D corp is decent.

    I also wonder what happened to the physical play and intensity. Brown injured Lu…nobody stepped up and did a thing about the running.

    Today there was a definite lack of intensity and a couple of mental gaffs. Santorelli also killed me…2 open nets and he couldn’t finish. He wasn’t the only culprit today but I can’t help but feel the Canucks let one slip away in Anaheim.