— Shnarped Hockey (@shnarped) January 2, 2015
To be completely honest, there aren’t many ways to try and put lipstick on the pig we watched convulse on the ice tonight. The Los Angeles Kings started the new year off by pounding the Vancouver Canucks in the closest blowout you’ll ever see. Vancouver somehow managed to build a 2-0 lead in the second period despite only firing nine shots on Jonathan Quick, but were outshot to high hell and never seemed to have the puck after that point.
Los Angeles would storm all the way back and win the game in the dying moments with two quick goals that left the Canucks stunned. Though to be fair, the Canucks looked fairly stunned for the first 48 minutes tonight as well. Read past the jump for a recap.
- Offense and defense are intrinsically linked in hockey, and while your first instinct after seeing a team register 40 shots is to chalk it up to a poor defensive effort, I thought that the larger problem was Vancouver’s complete inability to generate offense. If you want to score, you have to move the puck up the ice somehow, and the Canucks couldn’t do that at all. The Kings stifled all clean breakouts, forced low-percentage dump-ins, and backchecked like hell to break up Canucks retrieval attempts. The best way to beat the trap is with speed and excellent puck movement, which were two things Vancouver absolutely did not have tonight.
- Before the two late goals, Ryan Miller and Ryan Miller’s posts were having another fantastic night. Miller is playing better of late, and his save percentage is regressing in turn, but some of that regression is just blind-ass luck. The Kings hit two posts early, which is a similar story to what happened in Anaheim and San Jose, so the game could have really got out of hand. This isn’t to take anything away from Miller though – all goalies have runs of good luck built in to their performances over a given season.
- But man, those two late goals. It should help deflect unnecessary blame from Miller knowing that Vancouver was absolutely terrible all night and Los Angeles deserved those goals much sooner, but it’s still ugly for a guy who’s performance has been questionable at best so far. For what it’s worth, I don’t place the blame on Miller for tonight’s loss. There were far more players that had far worse nights.
- One of those players: Bo Horvat. Horvat had a 7.1% Corsi (+1/-13) on the night, despite the least defensive deployment that Willie Desjardins could give him – a 75% offensive zone start rate while playing mainly against the Kings’ 4th line. He is currently sitting at a 42.9% Corsi, which is essentially replacement level. I have a tough time believing that a waiver pickup like Kyle Chipchura or even Utica Comets star Dustin Jeffery would bring less to the table. Horvat is just not ready for full-time NHL duty it appears.
- The Canucks somehow managed to outshoot LA 6-4 when Jannik Hansen was on the ice, which seems impossible given how tonight went. I singled out Horvat above, but no one should escape criticism after that game.
The Detroit Red Wings, who are once again one of the better teams in the East, come to Rogers Arena for a showdown on Hockey Night in Canada in two days time. Vancouver will need a much better effort than what they offered up tonight, and playing like you’re not hung over from New Years will be a good start. Every point is critical for their hopes to make the playoffs right now, so two points on Saturday will be necessary to keep up with the pack.