Apr 192010

With Alberts throwing the Canucks under the bus multiple times Saturday night at GM Place in the Kings and Canucks second game of the series it’s no surprise that he’s getting benched tonight in favour of either Rome or Baumgartner (Baumer if Rome isn’t ready to play). Now there’s no excuse for his penalties, they’ve been stupid, undisciplined, and untimely. They’ve been a result of laziness and hopefully the benching gives him the reality check that he needs to fix things should he see ice time again in this series, let alone the playoff run. Alberts is a big guy and he can be a monster physically, unfortunately his lack of discipline hurts the team much more than anything else.

Now I’m not condoning Alberts’ play, but one thing concerned me just as much as his penalty taking on Saturday. While the Canucks have dominated the play through games one and two, they’ve run into Jonathan Quick who’s surprising everyone. The Canucks quality of chances has been high, but Quick has stood on his head to keep the Kings in this series when they should have been blown out in game one and heading back to LA down 2-0 in the series. What’s worrying is that in game two the Canucks had four shots in the first period and five shots in the third period of the Western Conference Quarterfinal game. The Canucks were lucky to come out of the first with a two goal lead on only four shots, but in a first period where you need to set the tone, and in a third period where you’re gunning to break a tie game, you’re not doing yourself any favours by missing shots and coming away with shot totals you can count on the fingers of one hand.

Quick’s proven that he’s brought his A-game to the series and it’s in cases like this that you’re going to have to go with quantity over quality. Cliche’s are around for a reason and when they say “throw things on net, good things happen” it’s because it’s worked. Now the Canucks have had some outstanding chances, they should have walked away with a game one victory, but instead they won a close affair in OT. They key to tonight’s game is going to be more than Alberts being benched and staying out of the penalty box. The Canucks need to get more pucks on net. They have an explosive offense that seems to be in the right place at the right time most of the night, it’s just a matter of tiring Quick out and trying to force a large rebound to capitalize upon.

Apr 172010
Alex Burrows and Shane O'Brien high-five

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

The Canucks and Kings meet for Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal Series tonight at 7:00 PM. Does Drew Doughty dare go in Alex Edler’s space again? Will Pavol Demitra show up? Can Andrew Alberts cut back on the dumb penalties?

All this and more in today’s game day links:

Apr 162010

I’ll admit I’ve defended Andrew Alberts during his short and adventurous stint with the Canucks so far. He adds some size and a physical element to the team’s blueline, and in a limited role, he was playing better as he became more accustomed to new teammates and a new system.

At least I thought he was playing better until last night.

Alberts played only 8:25 last night before he was ejected in the second period for boarding Brad Richardson. For his transgressions, he earned a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, and effectively took away some of the momentum the Canucks had from taking the lead just 3 minutes before that. Fortunately, the Kings only scored once during the major, though the Kings’ other goal also came while Alberts was in the box for interference. His ejection also forced the Canucks to play with just five defensemen for the final 40 minutes of the game and OT.

If Alberts wants to stay in the lineup, he can’t afford to make bad decisions and stupid plays, especially if the Kings are going to connect on the powerplay like they did last night. 5-on-5, the Canucks outshot the Kings (32-22); shorthanded, the Canucks surrendered 2 powerplay goals to the Kings. The Canucks held a definite edge in play on even-strength; Alberts needs to be smarter and not take this advantage away.

Apr 162010

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!

Mar 122010

When the Canucks got Andrew Alberts at the deadline he was in now way a replacement for Willie Mitchell, but as a depth guy he’s got to step up and fill the void. In the Canucks’ last game Alberts got a little lost and followed the wrong object down the ice after the puck drop.

Now I’ve noticed for a guy that’s only been around for 3 or 4 games he’s unfortunately been in the wrong place one too many times and it looks like he’s been the one at fault on a handful of goals thus far. Unlike others though I’m not quite ready to throw him under the bus. To be honest, not many people are throwing him under the bus just yet, but I started thinking a little about Alberts after someone jokingly said “That’s it, we need to trade Alberts.”

Alberts is coming onto a defence that’s very typically West Coast. The three previous teams he played for were all Eastern Conference teams and as we all know the Eastern Game is a much different style than that played here on the West Coast. The Canucks are also a team with a blue line in shambles. Some of our blue line pairings have looked down right bizarre. Our patchwork defence hasn’t really had time to adjust because between the callings up and down of Baumgartner, Lukowich, and the injuries to Mitchell, Rome, and Bieksa the blue line really hasn’t seen very many consistent pairings in a while. If you throw into the fact that the Canucks are already a team with a ridiculous amount of chemistry it’s clear that Alberts just needs a few more games to learn the Canucks system.

Alberts needs a little more time to mesh with this team. His head and his heart are in the right place. In his first game AV made an interesting choice to place him on the PK on a 5-on-3 kill and he looked good on the ice. He was hustling all night, he was being physical and what impressed me the most is after Seabrook decked Raymond Alberts came to his aid as if the two had been playing on the same team for the last 3 years. I was thoroughly impressed with the way he played in that first game because he was playing hockey as if he’d been in a Canucks uniform all season. Alberts isn’t the kind of deadline deal player that pans out in his first game the way guys like Wolski and Mueller did in their first games after this year’s deadline. Once the blue line sorts itself out and he gets a steady partner you can be sure that his 6 foot 5, 220 lbs is going to pay dividends.

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