Saturday, April 11, 2009

The GBU: Canucks and Kings

I haven't done a GBU post in a while, and it's also been a while since I've written about the Canucks, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone after attending last night's win over the L.A. Kings Thursday [Jason Botchford, The Vancouver Province].

The score: Canucks 1, Kings 0.

How I saw it: In person.

The Good:

-Roberto Luongo: Luongo certainly looks back in form these days. After standing on his head to steal a win against the Flames Tuesday [Nucks Misconduct], he was solid against an offensively talented L.A. team. He received considerably more defensive support from the rest of the team Thursday than he had against Calgary, but he still had to make several spectacular saves and didn't get a lot of offensive backing. He was named the game's first star, and was a deserving selection.

-Ryan Kesler: Kesler was selected as the team's season MVP before the game, and he justified his selection with some solid play Thursday night. He was strong at both ends of the ice, skating up a storm, scoring the Canucks' only goal off a wrist shot from the slot and backchecking ferociously. I'm not sure if I would have selected him as the team's MVP as there were so many other deserving candidates (Luongo, the Sedins, Alex Burrows, etc), but he's certainly had a great season. He's very valuable to the team and will be key to their success in the playoffs.

-Ryan Johnson: Johnson doesn't get a ton of credit, but he's one of the team's top defensive forwards. He hustled through every shift, backchecked consistently and blocked some dangerous shots. He and the other energy types like Rick Rypien bring a lot to the Canucks, even though their contributions don't always show up on the scoresheet.

-Alex Edler: Edler's been a strong presence on the Canucks' blueline this season, and he showed his skills again on Thursday. He created offensive chances with some terrific passes and made stellar defensive plays as well. He's added a lot of depth to the blue line, which is always a good thing to have.

The Bad:

-Drew Doughty: The Kings' 19-year-old rookie blueliner has some tremendous skills. He's strong with and without the puck, and showed a particular talent for well-crafted breakout passes. He'll be one to watch in the future.

-Jonathan Quick: Quick's only 23, but he's turned into a very promising goalie this year. He put on a show against the Canucks, stopping 27 of 28 shots and making great saves against Kyle Wellwood and Rick Rypien, to name just a few. He's going to be a key part of a rising Kings squad.

-Anze Kopitar: It seems hard to believe that Kopitar is just 21 years old; he's been very impressive ever since he made it to the NHL. The guy has tremendous skating ability and a great set of hands. He's the Kings' main offensive threat at the moment, and he's only going to get better.

The Ugly:

-The Canucks' offence: Vancouver's offence has been better than usual this year, but this game looked a bit like the last couple of years where the team was pretty much only Luongo. They created some good chances and were stopped by Quick, but they were only able to capitalize once. It's not a crisis situation, as they still got the win and probably would have scored more against a weaker goaltender, but they'll need to give Luongo more offensive support if they want to succeed in the playoffs.

-The Kings' uniforms: I'm not a fan of the purple-and-white. Purple can be fine as a uniform colour if it's well-thought-out and coordinated with the rest of the uniform (the Baltimore Ravens' black and purple jerseys are a great example of this). Purple and white doesn't look good, though, especially in the Kings' current format. Bring back the silver and black!

-"Easter Fin": I've said enough about this already.

Up next: The Canucks face Colorado at noon today [Nucks Misconduct]. They only need one point to clinch the division title and the third playoff seed, and they'll also want to turn in a good showing against a struggling Avalanche team to get set for the playoffs.

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