14 April 2012

Down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks are in serious trouble

Zack Cassion is not pleased, apparently. 
Normally in the playoffs, you would assume that a top seed on a conference would have no problem with the eighth seed in that conference, the lowest seed that made the playoffs, just out of common sense. But not so in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and certainly not so in regards to the Vancouver Canucks, the defending Western Conference champions, who after a 4-2 loss tonight to the Los Angeles Kings are down 2-0 in the series. Here is why the Canucks are in a lot of trouble right now.

The Canucks actually played better last night than in Game 1, including getting 22 more shots on goal than in the first game. But the biggest reason why they find themselves down two games as the series moves down to Los Angeles has been their major struggles on special teams, which normally is one of their strengths as in the regular season they were fourth in power play percentage and sixth in penalty kill percentage. But they have given up three goals on the power play to Los Angeles while they themselves are zero for ten with the man advantage. The lack of Daniel Sedin on the ice has severely hurt their power play.

What also has hurt the Canucks has been the exceptional goaltending by Kings netminder Johnathan Quick, who should be convicted for grand larceny with how well he has played this series (tip of the hat to Daryl Reaugh for that line). He has faced 74 shots and only allowed four goals and just like how the three pointer is the great equilizer in the NCAA Tournament, a hot goalie is the great equilizer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Quick has been just that. Following an awesome regular season he has come up huge for the Kings this series thus far.

Speaking of goaltending, now while Roberto Luongo has not been terrible this series, nor was he terrible last night despite allowing four goals. But he has allowed eight goals to a team that does not score very well, who were the second worst in putting the puck in the net this season. Expect Cory Schneider to be in goal for game three, which has the opportunity to give the team a jolt it desperatly needs as well as mess with Luongo's head even more. (UPDATE: Schneider to start in goal)

The bottom line, the Canucks are in real trouble. It is always tough to lose the first two games of a series but to lose them at home as the series now heads to give the lower seed homefield advantage essentially the rest of the way. Vancouver has to find some offense on their power play and Sedin may be rushed back to give the team a chance. The series is not yet over by any means but it's going to be very tough for the Canucks to try to win it.

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