It's time to go bump in the night

 

Scare tactics: Luongo and Lack have taken their shots; the Canucks need to agitate opposing netminders

 
 
 
 
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stops the puck as Vancouver Canucks forward Mike Santorelli tries to apply pressure in Monday's 1-0 loss in Los Angeles.
 

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stops the puck as Vancouver Canucks forward Mike Santorelli tries to apply pressure in Monday's 1-0 loss in Los Angeles.

Photograph by: The Associated Press, The Province

Roberto Luongo hopes to be a fast healer. He also hopes his teammates are fast learners.

When the Vancouver goaltender labelled Dustin Brown's crease crash here Jan. 4, that resulted in the tying goal and an ankle injury for the Canucks starter - "accidentally running me over" after a slight collision with Mike Santorelli - Luongo didn't lament the tactic by the Los Angeles Kings captain. In fact, he applauded the ploy because of the NHL's loose description of what is and isn't an infraction in the blue paint.

Brown wasn't penalized on the play, even though Rule 61.2 states that if a player initiates intentional or deliberate contact in or outside the crease it can be deemed a minor or major penalty. It's a judgment call. Rule 69.3 regarding contact inside the goal crease states that if it's intentional, the goal should be disallowed and an interference penalty should be levied. Brown went directly at Luongo with his flop and legs in the air, not around him, and there appeared to be intent.

As for Luongo, he practised Monday but did not suit up for the game, a 1-0 loss in L.A. He could return as early as Thursday at Phoenix in the finale of the three-game road trip.

What the goalie's teammates do in the interim is worth watching.

On this Western Conference sojourn, the Canucks face a trio of Olympians in Jonathan Quick, Jonas Hiller and Mike Smith. Giving the opposition netminder something to think about other than just stopping pucks and controlling rebounds is imperative - even though the Canucks' reputation of not getting breaks from referees still lingers. But goals are down, goalie stats are eye-popping and Hiller is the league's second star of the week. He posted a 3-0 record, 1.67 goals-against average and .941 save percentage for the Anaheim Ducks, who have yet to lose on home ice in regulation time (19-0-2).

"Any goalie in this league is good," said Canucks winger Tom Sestito. "You've got to take their eyes away and I don't think many goalies like getting rubbed up against or interfered with. It's between the lines - you've got to do it and not take penalties - and make sure we're getting in their way. We're seeing it more often and we've definitely got to get to their goalies and make them feel the same thing we're feeling. We've got to do a better job and we've talked about it."

In their last visit to Anaheim on Jan. 5, it was Eddie Lack who got run over by a charging Kyle Palmieri and he even stayed down for a few moments. The play wasn't penalized and it gave one-day professional tryout stopper Rob Laurie a few anxious moments on the bench as an unlikely backup with Luongo's unavailability through injury.

"We want to get more bodies in the paint and make it harder for them," added Canucks winger Zack Kassian. "We've got to get a guy in front and a guy higher for a double screen - that's how you score the majority of goals in this league and we haven't been doing it enough.

"The goalies are so good that if you take away their focus for a split second then maybe he's a little late arriving on a play and it gives you that little extra time."

Canucks coach John Tortorella has been consumed by his club arriving in the right frame of mind for any game. The collective commitment has wavered and the trickle-down effect is not enough offence from the back end - Jason Garrison and Chris Tanev have five goals while Dan Hamhuis has four - and not enough of a push down because of blue-liners under siege in their own zone. Pretty hard to play tough in the opposition's paint when the forecheck or puck possession simply isn't there.

"We haven't been involved enough offensively with our defence, but I'm not blaming our defence," said Tortorella. "I'm blaming our forecheck. I think we've spent too much time in our end zone and some defencemen have played a lot of minutes. We have to be a harder team to play against in the offensive zone - in their blue (crease) - and forechecking and having the puck more."

And when that doesn't occur, you don't build on leads and you don't rattle the goalie. It's why things need to go bump in the night, every night.

bkuzma@theprovince.com twitter.com/benkuzma

 
 
 
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Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stops the puck as Vancouver Canucks forward Mike Santorelli tries to apply pressure in Monday's 1-0 loss in Los Angeles.
 

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stops the puck as Vancouver Canucks forward Mike Santorelli tries to apply pressure in Monday's 1-0 loss in Los Angeles.

Photograph by: The Associated Press, The Province

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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