Canucks Love L.A.
Three days off in the sun and anonymity of Southern California rejuvenated the Vancouver Canucks. Riding a trio of first period goals, two from the unlikeliest of sources, the Kings were vanquished yet again by the team that eliminated them in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
1. Is there a more underrated defenseman currently than Sami Salo?
His ability to launch cannons on the powerplay is only dwarved by his ability to perfectly compliment Alex Edler as a right-handed blueline partner. Sami opened the evening with his third of the season on a vintage blast. His injury troubles define him but also mask his high level of play in his advancing years.
It’s hard to depend on him, but he’s the unsung hero of this season so far.
2. Speaking of unsung, earlier this year I floated the idea that Aaron Rome was an underappreciated steadying influence on the blueline. His Stanley Cup Finals suspension and time on the IR to start this year coincided with sloppy breakdowns in defensive coverage.
Now that he’s back, the Canucks have looked like the defensive kings of last season. His two goals in two games are just the icing on the cake. Rome had the game winner last night and was denied a second thanks to a dubious goaltender interference call on Jannik Hansen.
Unappreciated in his time, Rome is the Velvet Underground of blueliners.
3. Roberto Luongo had yet another strong game, winning his fourth in five starts. A couple more performances like this and he’ll have the town eating out of his hand again. You’re only as good as your last game in Vancouver but sometimes the short memories can work in your favour.
1. Kevin Bieksa blunders aren’t exactly rare, but this headscratcher was just plain strange. Not only does Bieksa force Luongo to play without his stick, he also forces Lu to play net while riding him bareback. Credit Luongo for jockeying some saves, but perhaps Bieksa should be signing one year deals in perpetuity to ensure nothing but contract year Bieksa.
2. Things got tense at the end when Mike Richards decided to help my fantasy hockey team Either/Orr by getting one past Luongo with 70 seconds left to play.
Like the late goal that ruined Luongo’s shutout against the Flames, this is a trend that needs to be addressed. Perhaps Vigneault should convince the Canucks that all games are now four periods long.
3. Finally, Trevor Linden made his triumphant comeback by taking a roughing penalty at the end of the second period. Or at least that’s the number the Kings scoreboard guys put up.
Aaron Rome wasn’t built in a day, but all of a sudden the Canucks are looking as dominant as the Byzantine Empire they were last year.