— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 13, 2015
When it comes to the bullies of the Western Conference, there aren’t many that the Canucks can’t keep up with. As frustrating as they can be against lesser competition – having developed a penchant for playing down to weaker opponents levels – the Canucks have been equal parts resilient against the powerhouses of the NHL on more nights than not. Save for one club: the Los Angeles Kings. The Canucks have one win in their last eight contest with the Kings, and have been outscored 9-25.
The Canucks built on this run of ineptitude with another uninspiring effort, dropping a 4-0 loss to the Kings at Rogers Arena. It wasn’t the most lively of contests, but we’ll break down what little they gave us, on the other side of the jump.
- If any one fan base has reasonable cause to believe Jonathan Quick is an “elite” goaltender, it’s probably Vancouver’s. In 23 career appearances against the Canucks, Quick has a 1.81 GAA to his credit and a .931 Sv% to go along with a 11-11-1 record. No matter what the “hockey guys” tell you, nothing about Quick’s career Sv% of a .915 suggests “elite”. Good, sure. Hell, come to think of it, quite suiting that he looks like an all-star playing the Canucks… like clockwork.
- When I last checked, there was about a 70% chance that this match-up will happen in the first round of the playoffs. As the Kings make their late season push towards the post-season, it becomes increasingly likely. It definitely played into my belief that the Canucks should be looking to accumulate draft picks at the deadline, sending out expiring contracts for mid-round picks. The Canucks do not match up well with the Kings. Not even remotely. Tonight’s game was further proof. The Canucks want to play a high-paced game, which is heavily geared towards controlling the neutral zone. When they play larger teams, like the ones they’ve faced recently from California, they lose their ability to challenge at either blue line and are forced into a dump-and-chase style attack that bodes very poorly for their offensive personnel. The results are low-shot, low-scoring chance performances like tonight’s.
- This season has been getting progressively worse for Linden Vey as it wears on. Defensively, the limitations imposed on Vey by his size are too much to overcome on most nights. Recently though, he had been making up for that with impressive play away from the puck and sound decision making. Tonight, we saw neither from the undersized “center”. His late change on the Justin Williams goal was especially rank. With the offense all but disappeared and a defensive performance like tonight’s, one wonders how much longer the Canucks can afford to keep him in their lineup – at the very least, lets take a break from Vey on the first unit power play.
- If Ronalds Kenins is going to earn his keep with physical play, he certainly did his part tonight. Only Dustin Brown had more hits (five) than Kenins four on the night. These weren’t exactly your fly-by kind of hits, either. Ronnie went in there looking to make a statement. By that same token, he played an uncharacteristically awful possession game, posting the worst Corsi For% of any Canuck tonight with 33%.
- Defensive gaffes aplenty tonight on nearly every Kings goals. There was the Alexander Edler gaffe in coverage on the Williams goal, which was only trumped by the Dan Hamhuis giveaway on Anze Kopitar’s. No getting away with those against a team like the Kings. Among Canucks defenders, only Ol’ Reliable himself, Chris Tanev, posted a positive Corsi For%. Kevin Bieksa could return to the lineup as soon as Saturday though, which should help the Canucks cause. In theory.
This certainly wasn’t the Canucks best performance. They’ve strung together a few stinkers of late, so it’s becoming a bit of an alarming trend. Eddie Lack can’t win the Canucks every game. Fortunately for Vancouver though, they play the full-on tank mode Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and that could be just what the doctor ordered (just like the Sabres, Devils, and Coyotes)!