The Stanchies: Trevor Moore and Nikita Zadorov make case for AI officiating as Canucks drop 6-3 stinker to the Kings

Photo credit:© Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
21 days ago
Worst pre-amble
Let’s skip the writing equivalent of a Kings’ 1-3-1 and just get right into the game, a 6-3 loss that made you question why you didn’t do literally anything else this Saturday.
Best available lineup
Credit to Dakota Joshua, who tried to set the temperature early with a crushing hit along the half wall before springing toward the net to receive J.T. Miller’s pass. It counted as a shot, even if it wasn’t much.
The Kings answered immediately with two shifts in the Canucks’ zone, including a dangerous wrist shot from Adrian Kempe that rifled off the top of Casey DeSmith’s mask.
Teddy Blueger then slashed Jordan Spence while trying to knock down a flip-pass from Vasily Pokdzolin, resulting in an early LA power play and the Kings’ opening goal.
The temperature setter, Joshua, made a great individual effort to start the PK. Pressuring Kevin Fiala, Joshua forced a turnover, then outworked his check along the boards for the clear.
Unfortunately, after sussing out the position of DeSmith’s cranium earlier in the period, Kempe made no doubt about it on his second chance of the period. Despite Pius Suter’s earlier effort to tie the puck up along the half wall to eat 30 seconds off the clock, Kempe found himself walking down the right with time and space to uncork a vicious snipe over DeSmith’s right shoulder, post and in.
Jordan Spence then drew his second penalty of the game, a crosscheck from Joshua, whose positive efforts in the early goings were rendered completely moot.
Early into the power play, Viktor Arvidsson sent a cross-ice feed to Drew Doughty for the one-timer. Doughty didn’t get much on his shot, but it was enough to flutter the puck over DeSmith’s left shoulder for the Kings’ second straight post-and-in goal.
Joshua then received a game misconduct from inside the penalty box for what I’m sure was some unkind language directed toward the referees.
Best reasons to stay awake
Up by two and Joshua in the box for another ten minutes allowed the Kings to comfortably set up their 1-3-1 trap, stifling any potential zone entries or offence generation by the Canucks. It was truly a recipe for disaster.
I mean…55 minutes of 1-3-1 hockey? On a Saturday night?
Mercifully, the early decision to step up for trap hockey gave the Canucks a boatload of time and space to find a way to crack the Kings’ defence. That, and J.T. Miller (I think) politely asking his teammates to “wake the f*** up.”
Ironically, Kings fans booed the hell out of Quinn Hughes for taking the time to reset from the d-zone ahead of this Canucks’ breakout.
Huge, “we’re all trying to find the guy who did this!” energy.
Brock Boeser gave fans a reason not to do literally anything else with their Saturday evening when he cut toward the middle for a bouncer over Talbot’s pads to halve the Kings’ lead.
Three of the Canucks goals against the Kings have all come on eerily similar plays through the middle of the ice, not fruitless point shots from the defence. Boeser’s 39th came from Ian Cole moving the puck down below the hash marks and playing the puck back to Elias Pettersson in the high slot. Pettersson then went to the wings to Boeser, who then drove into the middle to score.
Just last week, Sam Lafferty wowed the hockey world with an identical drive off the left circle to equalize against the Kings on home ice.
In that same game, Boeser halved the Kings’ lead by wading into the right circle before ripping a slap pass into the middle, catching a skate that redirected into the goal.
The point-shot offence simply hasn’t been generating the kind of rebound chances that the Canucks were scoring with earlier in the season at will. But the hardworking, meat-and-potatoes, “skating to the hard areas for crash-bang goals” types have been incredibly effective for Vancouver, especially against the 1-3-1 Kings.
In the final minute of the first, Pettersson sprang Sam Lafferty into the offensive zone for a drive on Talbot after dropping down to block Drew Doughty’s breakout pass.
It was easily Pettersson’s best period in quite some time.
Best Podkoptimism
Besides Boeser’s 39th, the best part of the Canucks’ 1st-period push was Podkolzin sending Pettersson deep into the offensive zone for a breakaway that somehow got denied by Cam Talbot.
The broadcast revealed that Podkolzin’s pass was an 83-footer up the middle to Pettersson in stride.
It was a slick and refreshing play that veered heavily from Podkolzin’s usual coach-friendly playstyle since being called up from Abbotsford. Seeing Podkolzin take risks when seeing openings is so much more interesting than the creativity-averse, job-securing strategy of simply “forechecking, hitting, skating hard, and exclusively passing to the blue line for point shots from the defence.”
More of “creative Podz,” please.
After going down 2-zip on four shots, the Canucks rallied to outshoot the Kings 8-5, holding LA to a single shot over the final 14 minutes. Pettersson was playing great, and the Canucks were finding ways to break through the Kings’ set up for offence.
Unfortunately, the second period happened…
Worst 20 minutes
Look, the second period was a bummer. The Canucks pressed and pressed, and pressed their little hearts out…but somehow found themselves in a deeper hole than ever before.
Despite outshooting the Kings 20 to 12, the Kings benefitted from goals from noted penalty-drawing phenom Jordan Spence and Kevin Fiala.
First, Spence took a pass from Fiala at the Canucks’ blue line and wheeled down the right wing for a drop pass. Spence then wheeled back to the point to uncork a missile from the point that made it three straight post-and-in shots from the Kings.
The King’s fourth of the game came ahead of the midway point, with Kevin Fiala catching a high-flip out of the Kings’ zone, racing past the last man back, Carson Soucy, for a shot on DeSmith, scoring after catching his own rebound.
Ironically, the sequence came after one of Pettersson’s best shifts in ages. EP40 was breaking up passes, creating scoring chances, and pinning the Kings inside the d-zone with an elite display of play control.
Soulcrushing. Heartbreaking.
Whatever dramatic adjective you want is appropriate in describing the vibes post-Fiala sequence.
Best whatever, who cares.
We know that teams comfortably in a playoff spot tend to ease off the gas, saving their legs for the games that matter most.
The same can be said about refereeing, apparently!
38 minutes into the game, after a litany of uncalled slashing and holding infractions, the Canucks went to their first power play of the game off a trip on EP40 by Phillip Danault.
The Canucks power play did well to work the puck down low and into the bumper for shots.
Boeser, who had one of his better two-way games of the season, nearly equalized on a rebound chance but ultimately couldn’t crack Talbot’s defences.
Hughes kept looking for the low wrister that he scored against Arizona, but the King’s traffic in front made follow-up tries incredibly difficult.
Here are a few clips of Boeser’s subtly-great defensive efforts in the early goings of the second period that helped the Canucks’ first line keep the Kopitar-Byfield-Kempe line in check.
Putting himself within spitting distance of 40 goals has been the loudly great part of Boeser’s resurgent season, but it’s his defensive play that has really stood out to me this year. He’s never been the fastest skater, but his wall work and reads through the slot have been absolutely stellar this year. I’m constantly clocking his stick lifts, which help break up the opposing team’s setups.
Best “What else is on?”
As the Vancouver Canucks mounted a late push against the Kings, top prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki scored his first AHL goal!
Blurst comeback attempt
Credit to Vancouver. Despite going down 4-1 after 40 minutes, they pressed throughout to keep the Kings on their toes. I hate to do the moral victory thing, but I appreciated their effort to at least try and turn the game into a dogfight. It was obviously too little too late, as the undisciplined play in the first period buried them in a Mariana’s Trench-like hole. Still, at least they appeared to be trying to make up for their early misgivings.
After a failed power play early in the second, Dakota Joshua doubled the Canucks goal total to somewhat put them within range for a comeback.
For the fourth time in as many games against the Kings, the Canucks sent a skater up the middle with possession, created a rebound chance, and capitalized! This time, Filip Hronek executed a brilliant tape-to-tape stretch pass to Miller, who cut around Matt Roy for a backhander on Talbot. Talbot failed to control the rebound, leading to Joshua’s crash-bang rebound goal.
Four times in four games, huh? Weird!
Trevor Moore scored not three minutes later off a sequence reminiscent of the Boudreau-era of Canucks hockey, regaining the Kings’ three-goal lead.
Conor Garland attempted to chip the puck below the goal line to Hronek, but Moore was there waiting to steal the pass and execute a give-and-go with Danault for the backbreaker.
As he tends to do, Tyler Myers took a penalty to give the Kings a third power play opportunity.
Fortunately, the Canucks somehow managed a three-on-one shorthanded rush that ended with Teddy Blueger breaking his outrageously long 40-game goalscoring drought.
It was a hilarious sequence that saw Nikita Zadorov bullrush past the Kings’ power play setup for the setup to Blueger in the slot.
Even more hilarious was Zadorov throwing the puck over the glass immediately after the centre-ice faceoff, giving the Kings a lengthy two-man advantage.
Incredibly, Hronek tied the puck up along the half-wall for a cool 40 seconds before sending the puck out of the zone. The disruption killed the Kings 5-on-3 setup, and an offside call on Adrian Kempe dropped another 20 seconds off the clock.
In the dying seconds of the Myers’ penalty, Carson Soucy dove onto a loose rebound to sweep the puck out of the zone.
Considering the PK went 0/2 in the first period, it was a shock to see the Canucks’ PK rally to kill a near-two-minute extended 5-on-3 while scoring a shorty for themselves. Especially considering that two of their most used defencemen on the PK, Zadorov and Myers, were in the box at the same time!
Best case for AI officiating
This wasn’t five and a game.
Late. No attempt to play the puck. High in the numbers.
What the f*** are we doing here if this hit isn’t five and a game?
Earlier in the game, Zadorov violently shoved Byfield head-first into the boards and that one didn’t earn a whistle either. They’re both awful, dangerous hits that warranted majors, and somehow, only one got called, and it was a two-minute minor.
This wasn’t five and a game.
Moore made no attempt to play the puck here. He recklessly hit an unsuspecting player in a dangerous position well after the puck had left his stick.
Brock Boeser was incensed by Moore’s late hit, hooking the Kings forward to pull himself within range to punch him in the head. Boeser has zero fighting majors in the NHL. The most penalty minutes Boeser has ever accrued in the NHL is 24…just last season. If Boeser is trying to sucker punch someone in the dome after a hit, you know it’s for a good reason.
Is there even a point to having refs in the playoffs if plays like these only get you two minutes or none at all?
We might as well ditch the entire reffing make-work project and just let the players officiate themselves or have AI do it!
I mean, NHL.com works like a charm for the three people who designed it! I’m sure they can script an AI reffing program as competent as the current standard of NHL officiating!
To his credit, Hughes was back out for the Canucks’ power play, playing the puck down low to Pettersson, who faked a wraparound to try and set up Boeser for his 40th from the slot.
Having played nearly four minutes straight, including the power play and the shift that ended with the boarding call against Moore, Hughes bobbled a hard pass from Garland, leading to an Adrian Kempe breakaway and a shorthanded goal for the Kings.
At the risk of having the Vancouver goalie guild slash my tires, DeSmith’s inability to bail out Hughes on this sequence made me channel Bill Peters’ infamous “make a save” line to Eddie Lack.
Best final words from the coach (via Rob Williams)
Worst “time is a flat circle.”
Worst record
Since I posted the club’s win/loss record against possible playoff opponents, they’ve added additional regulation losses to the Stars, Golden Knights, and Kings.
Their only winning record against potential playoff opponents are the Edmonton Oilers and the Nashville Predators.
As we all know, the Oilers faced Vancouver at the beginning of the season and lost so badly that Jay Woodcroft was fired not long after.
They now have a losing record against potential playoff opponents, with single games remaining against the Golden Knights, Oilers, and Jets still to come.
Oh, and by the way, those Oilers are now just three points behind the Canucks with a game in hand!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks!

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