With their overtime win in Game 2 on Saturday night (April 17) at GM Place, the Los Angeles Kings accomplished what they wanted and secured a split of the first two games of their series with the Vancouver Canucks. Now, the Canucks must do the same at the Staples Center with the series shifting south for Game 3 tonight and Game 4 on Wednesday (April 21).
Unfortunately for the Canucks, they were anything but road warriors this season as evidenced by their 8-3 meltdown in Tinseltown on April 1. Of the 16 teams that qualified for the playoffs, only Ottawa and Philadelphia had fewer than the 19 road wins the Canucks managed during the regular season. And with just one victory in their last six road affairs, the Canucks haven't exactly shown an ability to get results away from home. In fact, the aforementioned win was a 5-4 shootout victory in Anaheim on April 2, meaning the Canucks have not actually outscored an opponent on the road since a 6-3 win in Colorado on March 9.
The Canucks were the second-highest scoring team in the NHL this season. But with just five goals (and only four in regulation time) in their first two games against the Kings, the Canucks haven't exactly torched Los Angeles. Credit the Kings defense for holding the Canucks to two goals in regulation on consecutive nights for the first time since the Canucks were in Boston and Tampa Bay just prior to the Olympics.
One of the reasons for the lack of offense early in the series is the fact that, despite many chances, Alex Burrows hasn't found the back of the net. Burrows led the Canucks with 35 goals this season, but has quietly gone eight now without scoring.
You hear it all the time in the playoffs—a team's best players have to be its best players—and no one on that Canucks' roster scored more goals than Burrows this season. It'd be wrong to suggest he's not playing well because he's had plenty of opportunities. But no one wants to hear about chances wasted at this time of the year and, simply put, Alex Burrows has to find a way to convert on his opportunities.
And the Canucks—particularly the defensemen—must stay out of the penalty box. To this point in the series, Canuck defensemen have taken 27 minutes in penalties compared to just six for Los Angeles defenders. Cutting down on the number of penalties is the first step in addressing a dreadful penalty kill that has already resulted in four L.A. power play goals on nine opportunities. The Canucks need to take the pressure off the penalty kill, spend more time on their own power play and find a way to score more than two goals a game. Do all of that tonight and they should be fine. If not, they'll surely be feeling the heat on Wednesday night.