Last week saw our beloved Canucks tumble back down to earth in a pair of games against the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks. While the 4-1 fall to the Ducks was perhaps the worst game we have seen Vancouver play all year, the 5-0 loss to the Sharks showed some signs of life – despite the ugly ass score-line. 41 shots for the visiting Nucks in that tilt was still not enough to break through on the scoreboard, but that kind of pressure was still an improvement on a flat-footed performance in Anaheim.
Fast forward to yesterday when the Canucks paid a visit to one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings.
Anders Nilsson got the nod in a tough contest on Tuesday. It was most certainly not the smooth start he or coach Travis Green were hoping for, as only 23 seconds in, Nilsson was beaten by a weak-sauce wrister from a dog-shit angle. The puck found the slightest seam in the awkwardly positioned goaltender to give the streaking Kings an early lead. The Canucks followed that up by giving up a powerplay on a Brendan Gaunce trip (who was in for the healthy-scratched Jake Virtanen). LA capitalized only 3 minutes after their first Gino to extend the lead to 2-0. Pressure mounted as the period rolled on, but a calmed Nilsson held the deficit at two. Things were looking bleak.
Okay, so at this point, what would you assume is the LEAST likely thing to happen?
Well, that shit happened. The much maligned Loui Ericksson combined with Henrik Sedin to enact revenge for the ugly gimme-goal on the first shift with an ugly gimme goal of their own. Cap’n Hank’s second of the season pulled the Canucks within one. Okay, so NOW what’s the least likely thing to happen?… Yeah, you called it, a powerplay goal. A revamped first powerplay unit that combined the creativity of the twins, the gritty net-front presence of BoHo and the lethal release of young Brock Boeser got the job done as Horvat batted in a rebound off a Boeser shot.
All of a sudden we’re knotted at 2 heading into the third frame. Not so bleak now.
Only 4 minutes in and the surprises kept coming. A second powerplay goal, this time from the second unit, gave Vancouver their first lead of the game. The sensational Swiss man who goes by Svuper-Sven buried the biscuit top ched on Jonny Quick off a perfect tape-to-tape from Thomas Vanek on the final rush of their powerplay.
Speaking of the powerplay… The Canucks went 2 for 3 against the best penalty killing team in the show. Sure, the personnel changes made an impact, but I noticed something pretty slick. When breaking into the offensive zone, a little patience and dandy timing in the neutral zone had 3 to 4 forwards dashing towards the opposing blue line at high speeds allowing the quarterback to pick out an option. This strategy not only allows the team to gain the offensive zone, but also creates an opportunity off the rush in the process (which is how Baertschi scored the GWG). While it has been fun for the last 15 years, watching Hank n’ Dank hold up the puck inches into the offensive zone with some dandy passing to gain control, the new zone-entry strategy better suits a younger and speedier Canuck team. Lets hope they can keep it up!
Line up the Golden Knights and their Peewee rep goalie as the Vegas crew comes to town on Thursday. Let’s hope this resilient group can build on their upset-victory in the City of Angels.