The Full Sixty
| You can say one thing for certain about the Vancouver Canucks so far this season: if you blink, you’re going to miss something big. And not in a good way.
The Canucks gave up three goals in just under seven minutes Friday night as the struggling Los Angeles Kings handed Vancouver a 4-2 loss at General Motors Place.
Up 1-0 after a period, the Canucks looked poised to double their lead early in the second when Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows found themselves all alone behind the Los Angeles defense. But Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera was up to the task, sliding across his crease to make a tremendous save on Burrows.
Less than two minutes later, LA began a scoring spree that was eerily familiar to the ones given up by Vancouver in their previous three losses this season, all on home ice.
“For some reason, we’re getting five, six minutes that are putting us behind the 8-ball,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “We’re not playing a complete game together.”
Defenseman Mattias Ohlund echoed Vigneault’s sentiments.
“We haven’t played a full sixty minutes,” said Ohlund. “We have to find a way to play better.”
Goaltender Roberto Luongo was frustrated by his team’s latest defensive lapse.
“It seems we don’t play for five minutes and it kind of kills us,” said Luongo. “It’s been the second or third time it’s happened already.”
Actually, it’s the fourth.
On opening night, Vancouver gave up three first period goals in less than ten minutes in a 3-1 loss to San Jose. The Sharks effectively ended the game after twenty minutes against an offensively-challenged Vancouver club.
Less than a week later, the Canucks allowed four first period goals to the Philadelphia Flyers in an embarrassing 8-2 loss. The four goals were scored less than eight minutes apart and not only took Vancouver out of the game after a period, again, but they also chased Luongo.
On Monday, the Canucks made it to the third period before they fell asleep at the wheel. But the end result was the same, as three San Jose goals in three-and-a-half minutes turned what had been a tie game into an eventual 4-2 Sharks win.
When Vancouver found its game last season and began the hot streak that led to the Northwest Division championship, the team’s trademark was, arguably, playing a full and focused sixty minutes.
But this year’s club has struggled to meet that benchmark. They’ve grown flustered in close games and the usually stingy defense has left countless opposing forwards unmarked in the Vancouver end.
Unless Vancouver quickly rights the ship, the team may find that repeating as division champions will be more of an uphill battle than thought just a few weeks ago.
2 – Assists for Ryan Kesler, who played his best game of the season and looked at home with Cooke and Burrows on his wings.
3 – Hits for Brad Isbister to lead the club.
4 – Blocked shots for 37-year old Kings defenseman Rob Blake.
5 – Penalty minutes for Taylor Pyatt, who fought Raitis Ivanans in the first period after Henrik Sedin was rammed into the boards from behind.
The 5-on-5 attack generated chances for most of the night but Vancouver ran into a hot goaltender. Jason LaBarbera turned in a Roberto Luongo-type performance.
The defensemen had another tough night.
They gave up a 2-on-1 on the first Kings goal, let Mike Cammalleri bang in his own rebound on the second, and left Alex Frolov unmarked on the third.
The power-play failed to click in the first period when the Canucks could have put LA away early and was 0-for-4 for the night.
The penalty kill gave up the goal that put the Kings ahead to stay.