| The Canucks turned in one of their better offensive performances of the season on Saturday night against the Kings, and the fact that they still lost the game 4-3 is rather… well, offensive.
Vancouver peppered Jason LaBarbera with a season-high 46 shots, but could still only get three pucks past him.
“We had the start that we wanted as far as the process, and we had the right players getting the scoring chances. We just couldn’t get anything past their goaltender,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “Their goaltender – credit him. He had one of the best games I’ve seen all year long from a goalie.”
That’s quite an endorsement, considering Vigneault watches Roberto Luongo night in and night out.
The Kings’ offense managed four goals on the All-Star netminder, who was the victim of some juicy rebounds and missed defensive coverage.
Despite those four goals, it was Vancouver who had the offensive edge. Vigneault estimated the Canucks had over 25 quality scoring chances while the Kings had only 11.
A big reason for those scoring chances was the high number of shots from the Canucks. Getting pucks to the net is a priority for the team, who before Saturday’s game, sat last in the league in shots per game at 25.3. The game versus the Kings was just the ninth time in their 48 season games so far that they have topped the 30 shot mark.
Every single Canuck skater but Aaron Miller registered a shot on goal against the Kings Saturday, though Miller’s presence was still felt on the scoresheet as he registered his seventh assist of the season.
Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows led the pack in the Vancouver Canucks shooting gallery with six shots apiece. In addition, 12 Canuck shots came from the defense, an area Vancouver has felt needs to bring up its point production.
“I think offensively we played good enough,” said Mattias Ohlund, who returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a concussion. “Even in Detroit, and here too, we created enough offense to score some goals and win the hockey game.”
Ohlund cited his team’s defensive breakdowns as the difference-maker in the game, but Coach V wasn’t as critical. He acknowledged that all teams will make mistakes, and sometimes it’s just more a matter of luck than anything else.
“As far as scoring chances for and against, we’re there,” said Vigneault. “Sometimes you get on these roles where offensively it’s a little bit more challenging and defensively sometimes the other teams are getting breaks. Right now it seems to be that way.”
It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow that the Canucks have lost five of their last six and are 0-3-0 against the Kings, who are at the bottom of the league.
But if there’s one thing to take solace in, it’s the promise that the offense showed against the Kings. Offensive production is an area Vancouver has often been criticized for, and Saturday night they proved that the criticism is largely unwarranted.
1st – regulation loss while being broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada
3rd – consecutive loss for the Canucks, their longest losing streak all season
5 – games in a row that have been decided by one goal for the Canucks
34 – total shots in the second period alone (Van 20, LA 14)
89 – Kesler’s winning percentage in the faceoff circle (16-2)
Even though it came in a losing effort, it was an impressive offensive performance.
The Canucks put a season-high 46 shots on Jason LaBarbera and coach Vigneault estimated 25+ scoring chances for his team.
Defensive breakdowns and missed coverage were why the Kings scored four goals.
However, the Kings seemed to catch all the right bounces, as rebounds were landing right on their sticks all night.
All seven goals were even strength. Considering that the Kings have the fourth best power play in the league, the Canucks did well to go 3-for-3 on the kill, especially because the Kings had a two-man advantage for 30 seconds.
The Canucks, for their part, had difficulty with their power play, going 0-for-4.