Canucks 3 - 1 Kings
Make no mistake: the Presidents' Trophy is a pretty huge deal. Ignore anyone who dismisses it. It matters. Canucks fans have conditioned themselves to say it doesn't--that only playoff success matters--but, if we're being honest with ourselves, that's only because we've never even been close to this accomplishment. We've steeled ourselves against the Presidents' Trophy and, heck, the value of regular season dominance, too, because it's never been within our purview. Now that it is? It feels pretty good. It feels momentous. Is it momentous? I'd say it's momentous. In last night's game, the Canucks won the Presidents' Trophy. I watched this [momentous] game:
- Henrik "Captain Hook" Sedin took two minor penalties in the first period, but they were obviously on purpose. Here's what I think happened: He asked Alain Vigneault for the night off and was denied, so he decided to take the first period off instead. What a diva.
- Daniel Sedin's game-tying goal in the second period came on a pretty drag move and an even prettier wrist shot. That drag move is classic Daniel. He's been pulling it all season, recently scoring a memorable powerplay goal with it versus Minnesota. Until last night, however, he hadn't seen any success with it during odd-man rushes. He couldn't have picked a better time to finally pull it off. Justin Bourne tweeted that Daniel Sedin won the Hart with this goal, but I'd caution him against reading too much into the "MVP!" chant started by the fans. That was clearly meant for Victor Oreskvich.
- Okay, maybe not. But we said last game that Victor Oreskovich may have earned a permanent roster spot. If it wasn't true then, it probably true now. Besides the assist, Oreskovich also had three hits, a blocked shot, and the takeaway that started the two-on-one. That came when he picked off off a telegraphed pass by Drew "Jon Kitna" Doughty, and muscled the puck outside blue line before deferring to Daniel. Probably a wise choice, deferring to Daniel. Had Oreskovich kept the puck, he'd probably be getting death threats today. From Daniel.
- The Canucks scored their first five-on-three goal of the season last night, which is almost as big a deal as capturing the Presidents' Trophy. That said, the team seemed more motivated to get Daniel his 100th point simply to score a goal. How can you tell? Daniel was taking slapshots. The unit kept swinging it around for him, and he kept firing it. You'll notice there's only four Canucks in the celebratory hug, too. After Daniel garners the first assist on Kesler's goal, Alex Burrows immediately turns to retrieve the puck for his linemate
- Christian Ehrhoff had a game-high eight shots tonight. One of them went in, too. Ehrhoff capped off an odd-man rush by scoring with .9 seconds to go in the second period. Los Angeles would not register a shot on net in the third, making Ehrhoff's goal the most devastating backbreaker since Bane on Batman.
- You heard that right. Down a goal, the Kings couldn't muster a single shot in the final period. Granted, without Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, their forward corps are about as threatening as Veggie Tales, but give the Canucks credit. This comes on the heels of holding the Nashville Predators to only two shots in Tuesday's third period. I don't think we hear enough about the Canucks' league-best defensive play. They've allowed one goal in five straight games, and a few were just snack goals.
- The reffing tonight was pretty questionable, at times, most notably when Johnny Quick upended Alex Burrows on a scoring chance in front and got away with it. Not since Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas have I seen such blatant tripping.
- That said, the refs did make the right call when Kyle Clifford ran Chris Tanev dangerously into the end boards. The last time the Canucks played the Kings, we saw Alex Ponikarovsky hit Dan Hamhuis similarly, and referee Chris Lee only called a minor penalty. Then, the other night, Alex Burrows hit Vernon Fiddler similarly, and he took a major, which drew complaints, again, about Chris Lee's call in Los Angeles. Chris Lee was the referee tonight as well; he reallly had no choice but to make a stiffer call this time around. Let's be clear, though: Chris Tanev nearly got himself killed. Clifford and Tanev are coming in at full speed, and Tanev's body and skates are turned to the left. At the last second, Tanev turns his skates to the right, but fails to get his body fully turned before Clifford hits him. It's a split-second accident. Clifford meant to hit Tanev hard, but he didn't mean to hit him like that.
- There were two guys sitting directly behind Alain Vigneault in full drag, apparently going by the names "Daniella" and "Henrietta", and wearing bright pink t-shirts that said Hockey Luvin Homo. I wondered if this offended anyone. It offended me: Luvin needs an apostrophe, at least. Anyway, I'm fairly confident they were the Wayans brothers.
- I didn't mind Mason Raymond at center. He looked a little confused at times, but he performed decently in the faceoff circle (3-for-5), and Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen looked energized and dangerous for the first time since Manny Malhotra went down. It would appear being Maxim Lapierre's wingers is about as disheartening as being Chris Brown's publicist.
- Speaking of Raffi Torres, he registered 3 hits in the game, narrowly missing his apparent goal of 100. Torres played like a man possessed, likely by one to three of Casper's brothers. Be it an opponent, the referee, or even just a patch of wide open space, he was hitting everything. He was like a human mallet in a lifesize game of Whack-a-Mole.
- And finally, I realize, now, that playing the theme for the West Wing, postgame, was a nice hat-tip to winning the Presidents' Trophy, but the music was just a tad too inspirational for my tastes. You'd have though the whole team finally arrived at the Great Valley. Everyone: Tina Turner released "Simply the Best" for a reason.