Surprises Abound in the Kings Victory in Vancouver
There is a list of things that were shocking about the Kings’ domination of the Vancouver Canucks in their 4-2 Game 1 victory, perhaps none more than the fact the Kings actually won.
Let’s be honest and take off the Kings-tinted glasses. This team came into the playoffs choking away two-goal third period leads to San Jose in the final two games. Nothing in those two games contained any sort of confidence that they could win a playoff series much less a game.
Also let's not forget only the Minnesota Wild with their 177 goals scored less in the regular season than the Kings. With the Kings' 194 goals, these were the only two teams not to reach the 200-goal threshold.
With the Canucks coming into the series winning eight of their last nine games, things did not look good for the Kings, yet there they were Wednesday night in Vancouver. Simply put, the Canucks lost their composure taking eight penalties while essentially handing the game over to the Kings. The worst was fourth-liner Byron Bitz took a five-minute major boarding penalty smashing Kyle Clifford's head to the glass in the second period. Bitz was suspended two games by the NHL on Thursday while Clifford will miss Game 2 on Friday.
The Kings only went 2-for-8 on the power-play, but they didn't have to do much since the Canucks didn't show up. Actually goaltender Roberto Luongo did show up, the only reason the game was a 2-2 tie with four minutes left in regulation. The Canucks needed every bit of his 35 saves just to keep hope treading water in Rogers Arena. He was only the scapegoat for the team's Game 7 home loss in the Stanley Cup Finals, and he made sure his name didn't come up as the reason the team lost this game.
But every other Canuck? Ryan Kesler recorded only one shot-on-goal while Henrik Sedin notched only two.
Of course it's hard to score when facing a goalie in Jonathan Quick who should be a Vezina Trophy finalist. Quick turned away 24 shots including all 12 in the third period. Add Mike Richards looking reinvigorated in his three-point effort which included a power-play goal in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. His assist down the stretch that eventually got the puck on Dustin Penner’s stick was the difference in the game, the straw that finally broke Luongo’s back.
It's too soon for Kings' fans to start celebrating a first round win. The Canucks probably won't be no-shows on Friday in Game 2 and try and salvage a game on their home ice. And speaking of home ice, there should be some concern with the Kings winning only one home game in their last two seasons in the playoffs.
But it sure is a nice position for the Kings to be in.