John Garrett: That empty feeling
It’s an empty feeling sitting at home, watching games where you do not really care who wins or loses.
This is the playoffs. We should be watching the Canucks march to another date with the finals.
They were, after all, there in Game 7 last year. They won the Presidents’ Trophy then and they won it again this year. They were supposed to win. Oh if only it were that easy.
Last year the Canucks won 54 games and ended up with 117 points. They scored 262 goals, first in the league. They won the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against at a measly 185. Their power play was first in the league and their penalty killing ranked third.
This year over 82 games they were once again the class of the NHL. They won 51 games and finished with 111 points. They scored the most goals in the Western Conference with 249, fourth in the league and allowed 198, the fourth fewest among all teams. Their power play was fourth and the penalty kill a respectable sixth.
So why am I sitting at home watching The Voice?
The Canucks ran into a hot goalie. No doubt about that. Jonathan Quick was incredible, but to be good you also have to be lucky and he was that. The Canucks could not get a bounce if their playoff lives depended on it. In Game 2 the puck skips by Dan Hamhuis and Dustin Brown scores the Kings second shorthanded goal of the game. In Game 3 Jannik Hansen hits the post in the first five minutes and the Canucks get shutout. Luck was not on their side.
Last year the Canucks beat the Hawks in Game 7 when Alex Burrows nailed a rolling puck just inside the post. Kevin Bieksa eliminated the Sharks when the puck caromed off a stantion and he beat Anti Niemi before he could figure out where it was.
Last year you had to look at some misfortune as long term good luck. Sami Salo ruptures an Achilles tendon playing summer ball hockey and ended up playing only 27 regular season games. Alex Edler has back surgery and played 51. Kevin Bieksa broke a foot and missed 16 games. Dan Hamhuis played only 64. These guys were ready and rested for the long playoff run. Edler and Bieksa played all 25 games in the post season and were invaluable in the 2010-2011 run to the Stanley Cup Final.
This year Salo played 69 games, Edler 82, Hamhuis 82 and Bieksa 78. Bieksa was hurt going into the playoffs and Edler looked both mentally and physically tired.
The Kings played well, no doubt about that, but the Canucks were either tied or within a goal going into the third period of every game. If only that one shot had gone in, if only that shot had not been blocked, if only the luck had gone the other way.