Kings @ Canucks Recap: Takeaways from a "Meaningless" Game
A day removed from a rare loss to the Canucks, we look back and recognize some important things about a relativity unimportant game.
Last night, the Vancouver Canucks stayed mathematically alive with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Realistically, this game didn't affect either team's long-term fortunes too much. With three games remaining in the regular season, did we learn anything from this game? At the very least, we had some observations...
The goaltending is, still, not a problem
Jonathan Quick had a pretty good March. He broke the Kings' franchise record for career (regular season) wins, and though his .919 save percentage wasn't spectacular, he regularly flashed the form that got him a Conn Smythe and a big contract in 2012. One important note is that his even strength save percentage is now at .932, good for fourth in the NHL. The only goals that got past him last night? One was on the power play and was scored with Alexander Edler's leg; the other was the result of a defensive letdown with new guy Andrew Campbell on the ice. Strong effort, spoiled somewhat by his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after Brad Richardson's game-winner.
Note: Eddie Lack played well too. His only goal allowed came when somehow, on a PK, Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis both ended up in the corner and Slava Voynov was alone in front. At the very least, with a big 2-on-1 save on Tyler Toffoli, he got some revenge for looking silly on this 2-on-1 Toffoli goal a few months back.
Get on the first line's level, everybody
Thanks to their prolific third period, Vancouver ended up with a sizable advantage in the possession battle last night. However, guess who the three most effective players (in Corsi For %) were last night? That's right: Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Justin Williams. In particular, with Anze Kopitar on the ice, the Kings have gotten over 55% of the shots in seven of the last eight games. The offense was a bit more balanced against San Jose, but against Vancouver, the first line was the only one getting consistent opportunities. The other lines only brought scattered chances; that needs to change.
Also, Marian Gaborik looked to draw a late penalty on Edler on a slam-dunk interference. Somehow the referees missed it, and one minute later, the puck was in the Kings' net.
Welcome to the big leagues, Andrew Campbell
The debut for longtime Manchester Monarch Andrew Campbell could have been a lot worse. He got over thirteen minutes of ice time. He was sheltered somewhat, starting most of his shifts in the offensive zone, but was given opportunities to play in important situations. Notably, he played on the PK, and got a late shift (which unfortunately ended up with Campbell and Slava Voynov getting mixed up on assignments). And in a cool pregame moment, the team tricked him into taking a couple of solo laps before warmups. Campbell is unlikely to play a key role going forward, but on a team where young players have a notoriously hard time breaking into the lineup, good to see Campbell get a taste of the NHL.
Hey, Matt Greene, what GAHHHHH YOUR LEG
It looked innocent enough on the broadcast. Jonathan Quick brought the referees' attention to what was termed as a "foreign substance" by Bob Miller and Jim Fox, and they scraped it off during a short delay. A replay simply showed a blocked shot and scramble in front, but those with sharp eyes may have noticed that most of Matt Greene's skate was... um... red.
Turns out that Greene had blocked a Jason Garrison shot a bit earlier with his shin, and somehow, the spot that puck hit resulted in some profuse bleeding. Greene would return later in the third period; what's your excuse, Drew Doughty?! (just kidding, Drew, please take your time)
Another blown third period lead...
So, the big question... should we be concerned about that third period? There were obviously some mitigating factors for the Kings. The absence of Drew Doughty was prominent. The Kings went to the box four times and didn't get a single power play opportunity. Most importantly, Vancouver had to win this game, and it showed. But there are worries to be had. The Canucks still got 14 shots on Jonathan Quick at even strength, so it's not like Vancouver did all their work with the man advantage. And this isn't an isolated incident; as Jon Rosen noted, the Kings have allowed six third-period game-tying goals in their last 13 games.
The Kings' confirmed position in the standings can be a reason for this, but it can't be an excuse, and it can't continue in the playoffs.