NHL Playoffs: Canucks having left in tank to fight Kings
It's not an easy explanation really.
Coming up with reasons why so many talented players would come up so flat for so long can be pretty hard to explain, although the Vancouver Canucks would probably have you buy the fact that they played into June last year as the reason they came up dry this season. You know, they've played a lot of hockey and therefore have no gas left in the tank 10 months or so later.
Or how about the Alain Vigneault advanced theory of the Los Angeles Kings being a terrific team and that anyone can beat anyone once they get into the playoffs--although this certainly wasn't the case last year.
None of the players were buying the 'too much hockey' dance, that's for sure..
“I don't think that's the reason,” said Sami Salo. “For some reason we weren't playing our best hockey down the stretch and we showed you can't turn it on by pressing a button. We played a bad game one and it went from there, but we didn't really play well for the last part of the season at all.”
There are people in this town who won't hear a negative word about Vigneault. None of it could be his doing they argue because he got them to the Stanley Cup final last year and therefore is beyond reproach. But how can you bring him back after this? How long can you cling to this narrative in the light of some of the comments after the game is a mystery.
“You only get so many chances to win this thing and after a season like we had we feel like we let a good season go,” said Cory Schneider, who said he didn't want to think about the ramifications of his taking over the starters job in the playoffs, saying he hadn't processed it yet. “We didn't play our best in game one and while they rest were close, they outworked us and made the plays at the right time. You need some magic and some luck in the playoffs and we didn't have either and ran into a team playing well.”
Outworked in the playoffs?
What happened to the likes of Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, David Booth, Chris Higgins and most notably Ryan Kesler, all of whom were absurdly below form in this series, with seemingly no hope of ever scoring a goal? And Mason Raymond too, but he has decayed so much that he doesn't even really qualify here as anyone good enough to mention.
Bieksa clearly couldn't move and therefore given the 'maintenance' days we can assume he may have had a broken foot. But he didn't exactly have a great season anyway so there's wasn't much of a drop off even with the injury. Kesler was bad all season and this was merely more of same, but he seemed to save his least inspired efforts for the playoffs. If he stepped on the gas, we can assure him nothing happened.
Edler was one of the Canucks best players last year. This year down the stretch it looked as though he'd never played outside the Swedish first division at times. After an outstanding regular season, Higgins pulled a total no-show and in his first playoff, David Booth was absolutely invisible the entire series despite playing the last two games with the Sedin twins. If anyone calls this organization from Florida in the future, the staff should be instructed to hang up.
And practically speaking, exchanging Samme Pahlsson for Cody Hodgson in a lineup already having trouble scoring? That was something Mike Gillis got talked into by his staff but the buck stops with him.
“I'm surprised obviously,” said Vigneault when asked why so many of his players just wilted in this series while trying to make out this Kings lineup somehow makes up part of a great team of all the juggernauts in the Western Conference all of whom have a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup. “I thought we had guys with real good potential to be able to score but goals were really tough to come by.”
After such a bleak ending anyone looking for positives had to wait around for some late Daniel Sedin.
“I know we're going to be very good again next year,” he said. “There will be some changes I'm sure but the ownership and management here are committed to winning and I'm sure we'll have another good team. That's why it's good to play here and why we'll be back.” .
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