Let me start by saying that at 6:30 PM I was still downtown at SFU’s Harbour Centre, stuck in the middle of lecture and agonizing over when we were going to get an effin’ break. Yes, I was ducking out early (there was no way in hell I was going to miss Game One!). By 6:35, I was sprinting to Waterfront station. Somehow, I managed to get home by 7 PM on the nose. Thank God.
The Canucks started the game off with a similar work ethic in the first period. I thought they had some jump early and fed off the adrenaline coming from the fans, and it showed in the shot totals after the first frame (17-6).
But props should go to Los Angeles for their play in the second period. I’m not sure what coach Terry Murray said to them at the first intermission but they settled down. They started the second frame on the powerplay and made good on it by scoring only 54 seconds into the game. It was key for taking away the momentum from the first period and taking the fans out of it.
However, the veteran and poised play of Mikael Samuelsson helped turn the tide when he responded on a Canucks powerplay only minutes later. One of the messages coming from Samuelsson is to not get too high or too low during the playoffs and it was important the Canucks got right back to doing what they do. Even better, I think Daniel and Henrik Sedin showed some playoff veteran-like patience on Vancouver’s second goal beauty.
My goat of the night goes to two Canucks, though. I think Andrew Alberts, who’s played in 8 NHL playoff games, showed too much intensity and too much undisciplined play. As Samuelsson said, you can’t get too high or too low, you just got to play your game. Unfortunately, Alberts was too aggressive on the Brad Richardson hit and it cost the Canucks a goal. Moreover, Alberts’ interference penalty at the end of the first period paved the way for Jarret Stoll’s goal in the second.
In other words, Alberts was in the box (technically) for both Los Angeles powerplay goals. Playing with only five defencemen, and without Willie Mitchell to boot, is a recipe for disaster against an LA team which finished a shade worse than the Canucks’ 6th-ranked powerplay.
My other goat of the game goes to Ryan Kesler. After inking his contract extension in March, it was Kesler who said he wanted to win a Stanley Cup and the city’s fans had waited long enough for a winner. Well, judging by his efforts last night, he certainly didn’t show it. I know Kesler’s got additional responsibilities compared to the Sedins (containing the Smyth-Kopitar-Williams trio), but the Ryan Kesler we’ve seen this year should contribute at both ends. The USA Olympian finished the game with 23:49 played, was even, and generated just three shots on goal. But what I noticed out there was Kesler wasn’t playing his usual “bull in a china shop” style that we’re used to seeing. That’s got to change for Game Two.
Alright, and who has EVER seen Alexander Edler play this tough? Edler was dangerous all night long, had scoring chances, was a defensive demon in his own end, and boy did he take it to Drew Doughty.
Otherwise, I think the Canucks played a pretty good Game One. Roberto Luongo in particular showed up when the Canucks needed him and the overtime save he made will be added to the Luongo highlight bank, especially if the Canucks can get by the Kings.
Game Two is Saturday night at 7 PM!