Normally, I’d try to lead with a somewhat catchy paragraph here to get your attention and encourage you to read on. Not tonight. Tonight was awful. Read past the jump to see how awful tonight was.
Spoilers: it was awful.
Vancouver had a chance to open the scoring early as Kyle Clifford and Jake Muzzin took two consecutive penalties to put the Canucks on a 5-on-3. Vancouver couldn’t so much as muster a single grade-A scoring chance though, and the game went all downhill from there.
About 10 minutes into the first, the Canucks iced the puck. They couldn’t clear the zone on the ensuing faceoff, and the puck squirted back to Alec Martinez at the point. Martinez fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Ryan Miller, but Marian Gaborik was able to find the puck in the resulting scramble before any Canucks could locate it. Gaborik shoveled the puck over Miller to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
Jake Muzzin scored the Kings’ second goal of the night just a few short minutes later, as he was allowed to walk in from the point and direct a wrister over Miller’s glove, then Anze Kopitar added to the Kings lead about three minutes after that when he broke in all alone and roofed a shot short side, directly under the crossbar to bring the score to 3-0 for the home side.
The night got no better for Vancouver, as they weren’t even able to mount modest pressure on Jonathan Quick and the Kings before Bo Horvat blew a clearing attempt and Kevin Bieksa blew his coverage, allowing Tyler Toffoli to tap home a rebound, giving Los Angeles a 4-0 lead.
Ryan Miller was pulled in favour of Eddie Lack to start the third period, and Lack was thrown right into the fire. Two minutes in, Jeff Carter was sprung on a breakaway. He shrugged of the Sedins’ backchecks before firing a laser of a shot right over Lack’s shoulder, putting the Kings ahead 5-0.
Chris Higgins would break up Jon Quick’s shutout bit in the latter half of the final frame, but it really didn’t matter. Los Angeles had thoroughly outclassed the Canucks all night, so this goal was just a footnote in an otherwise poor effort:
Los Angeles wins by a final score of 5-1.
— Steph (@myregularface) November 9, 2014
Courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com
There’s not really much to say here – this game wasn’t really close. It wasn’t close by the underlying metrics, and it certainly wasn’t close on the scoreboard either. Vancouver should have lost on Thursday to the Sharks, but Buffalo should have lost every single game they’ve played this season. Some nights when you play really poorly, you can still win hockey games. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights.
L.A. laid the boots to the Canucks in the second period in particular. When the Canucks were down 3-0 and should have had a bit more pushback, they went +8/-22 for a 26.7% Corsi in the frame at even strength, which was quite representative of how soundly the Kings were able to control them. They weren’t much better even when L.A. basically stopped playing about halfway through the 3rd, finishing the game with a paltry 30.4% of the even strength shots, and 33.8% of the shot attempts.
We still have to remember that this is just one game, but it’s worth noting that the Canucks are now a sub-50% possession team on the year according to war-on-ice.com. Daniel, Henrik, and Radim Vrbata are also the only three remaining forwards that are in the black for possession, which is kind of what we expected going in to the year, but it’s disappointing nonetheless.
Vancouver still has to play 5 or 6 more games until we get a good read on what they really are, but we’re getting closer and closer to being able to make a decent determination. Right now, their performance against teams we know to be good is quite disheartening.
The good news is that there’s not a lot of time to let this loss fester, as Vancouver is back in action tomorrow evening against the Anaheim Ducks in a showdown for first place in the NHL. The bad news is that the already hobbled Canucks may be without Radim Vrbata, Derek Dorsett, and Luca Sbisa as well, as all three left tonight’s game with injuries.
Zack Kassian has been sent home to get treatment on his leg, so he won’t be playing. Nicklas Jensen and Yannick Weber will undoubtedly draw into the lineup, but Vancouver will have to call up another player from Utica to fill out the final roster spot. We’ll undoubtedly see who that is as soon as tomorrow morning.