When Vancouver narrowly lost to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 on Saturday night, it was clear that the seed of doubt has been planted in the hearts and minds of Canucks fans.
After all, the Kings have plenty to be proud of. They entered a building where the Vancouver Canucks boasted a league-best 30 wins in the regular season and not only took the second game, but took both contests to overtime. In essence, Anze Kopitar’s crew could easily have been flying back to California with a 2-0 series lead in their back pockets.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case. But while Mikael Samuelsson stated the team knew it wasn’t going to be a four-game sweep, there’s no questioning now that the Kings have the team’s attention.
Poorly timed penalties were once again the story of the game on Saturday night, and the Canucks paid for it through the nose. Two of the Kings’ three goals came on the man advantage, giving them four powerplay goals in just nine of their opportunities. That is a lethal 44.4% ratio, enough for even the most diehard of Vancouver fans to throw up some red flags.
But by the time this blog post hits cyberspace, it’s likely the Canucks are putting Games 1 and 2 past them. It’s a brand new series; like many other top-seeded teams in the postseason, Vancouver is facing a tough task of trying to take back home ice advantage from their playoff opponent. If the Canucks can manage to take one (but two sure would be nice) games in California in the next few days, the team has a chance to pull ahead for good.
Even though it’s tough to base assumptions simply by looking at the regular season, the Los Angeles Kings had the fewest home wins of the Western Conference playoff teams. Conversely, the Canucks were the only Western playoff team to finish with a below .500 record on the road. Something will have to give on Monday night.
And Canucks fans, rejoice! We’ve likely seen the end of the Andrew Alberts experiment. In 17:32 of ice time in the two games, Alberts registered 23 penalty minutes, had no shots and was even. Despite the fact the Canucks didn’t surrender a powerplay goal with Alberts in the box, the trade deadline acquisition certainly did no favours to himself by taking three penalties in game two. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but the Canucks could really use Aaron Rome.
Like I said, the seed of doubt has been planted. But if the Canucks can be a hit at the Hollywood box office on Monday and/or Wednesday, fans will have reason to cheer again.