There’s something oddly poetic about the way the Vancouver Canucks played their last two home games. OK, sure, it’s more like bad high school poetry, but there’s an odd logic to it. After all, the team earned a lot of respect for not just surviving, but thriving during a historic road trip this regular season.
The two home games were particularly rough for Canucks goalie and unofficial captain Roberto Luongo. He allowed 11 goals in two contests as Dustin Byfuglien and the Chicago Blackhawks clearly got in his head with their crease-crashing ways. In both games, Luongo had sub-.900 save percentage. It was just a meltdown for the slick-haired netminder.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province captured the sad scene.
It was a bad start. It only got worse. It ended up in a place where none of the Canucks ever wanted to be again. Back in May 2009, reliving their deepest, darkest nightmares from Game 6.
Another Chicago hat trick, another Luongo meltdown, seven more goals and now another deep hole the Canucks will have to dig out of to avoid another postseason from caving in on them in second round.
“It’s not similar to last year, it’s exactly the same,” Ryan Johnson said. “It’s the same type of situation and the same results. “If this isn’t the last wake-up call, I don’t know what it’s going to take.”
The thing is that the Canucks actually played pretty well in Game 1, although Luongo was forced to carry the team at times. To expect him to replicate 36-of-37 save performances three (or more) times in one series might be asking a bit much. Regardless, the Canucks need Luongo to get his game together if they have any chance of pulling off three straight wins against a hot Chicago team.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.