Waking up with the Kings: March 3
-One thing learned from last night’s game wasn’t really “learned” at all – it’s something that any hockey fan who has watched the Vancouver Canucks has accepted as gospel. If Henrik and Daniel Sedin are given any extra opportunities, or provided any additional cushion of space, they’re going to take advantage. As soon as the Daniel-Henrik-Burrows line stepped on the ice to counter the Clifford-Fraser-Nolan line for Los Angeles, I commented to the person sitting next to me that this shift could become “problematic”. There weren’t any Grade-A opportunities for Vancouver on a first look, and when Drew Doughty shoveled a net-bound feed with his glove forward to Kyle Clifford, it appeared as though the Kings were on their way to clearing the zone and a harmless line change. Whether he was concerned about handling the puck in a volatile area or was looking for teammates exiting the zone, Clifford’s turn up ice was roundabout, and his urgency in handling the pass and clearing the zone didn’t take precedence. The Canucks created a turnover and immediately worked the puck low, where Henrik Sedin showed his trademark patience and string pulling from the right of Jonathan Quick, and Dan Hamhuis – who had activated earlier and was standing alone – like, really, really alone – in the right circle as the play developed – went unmarked and buried a Burrows pass past a helpless Jonathan Quick.
-“Helpless Jonathan Quick”: Yea or Nay? I was fighting Internet gremlins and an uncooperative computer for most of the night, and I wasn’t able to gauge any sentiment of Kings fans and writers on Twitter and in the blog comments. I felt the Canucks were out-chanced through large stretches of the game. They had four goals on 17 shots through two periods. In the goal described above, there wasn’t anything Quick could do, other than be in two places at once. On the goal that put Vancouver up two to one, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for Quick to make a save on Mason Raymond’s shot, but there were also some Kings coasting into the defensive end leading up to the goal. Mike Richards didn’t seem particularly concerned that Raymond, the opposing center, was using a burst of speed through the neutral zone to gain penetration into the L.A. end. Richards didn’t create pressure on the backcheck, offering no resistance against a skilled player who unleashed a crisp shot up high to beat Quick in what was a one-on-one with Davis Drewiske. On the goal that put the Canucks up 3-2, there was cheating up ice by both teams. Slava Voynov and Clifford were all-in in the offensive end while Henrik Sedin snuck past the Kings’ forwards as the puck pinballed around near the Vancouver blueline before Alex Burrows eventually found him. He shuffled the puck to Daniel Sedin, and while the shot was taken from the right faceoff dot, my goodness, what a perfectly placed blast that was to the far post by one of the league’s premier goal scorers. While Quick’s postgame comments shouldered the blame, there were breakdowns on all four goals he allowed that could be shared between him and the players in front of him.
-It wasn’t exhibited for the full 60 minutes, but the Kings did some good things in the offensive zone last night. There was frequent traffic in front of Cory Schneider. Momentum was clearly heading in their direction leading up to and including Jordan Nolan’s game-tying goal. Even when they were trailing by two late in the third period, there were quality chances turned away by Schneider, who saw all the shots despite the traffic and kicked them aside. The late push was exactly that – late – but it was good to see a response and some resilience as L.A. ventured to tie the score.