Vigneault can’t escape blame for Canucks failings

37 Comments

Fresh off their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy, the Vancouver Canucks could only manage one victory in the playoffs, falling in five games to Los Angeles in the first round.

Perhaps they were worn out, mentally and physically, from last year’s grueling Stanley Cup run.

And the Kings are a good team that nobody would be shocked to see in the final.

But there will still be calls for the coach’s head.

In fact, the calls have already come. When the Canucks were trailing the Kings, 3-0, The Province’s Tony Gallagher, a long-time critic of Alain Vigneault, wrote that losing in the first round would be yet another “ridiculous conclusion” to the season in Vancouver.

Looking back, Gallagher makes a legitimate point.

In 2008, there was a “hideous collapse down the stretch whereby the team missed the playoffs.”

In 2009, the Canucks “had the Chicago Blackhawks down 2-1 with the lead in the third period of game four only to lose those next three and drop a series they should have won.”

In 2010, “the season ended miserably with Chicago humiliating Vancouver in one-sided home games.”

Of course, Vigneault took Vancouver all the way to final last year. “But not before it almost blew a 3-0 series advantage in the first round, ridiculously poor efforts in games four and five the main reason.”

And we’d add the Canucks didn’t exactly fall to the Boston Bruins in the most commendable manner, losing their composure and getting outscored an incredible 21-3 in their four defeats.

Sorry, but some of that has to fall on the man in charge.

Now, many will say it’s insane to get rid of a coach that’s won so many games. They’ll bring up all manner of statistics, comparing Vigneault’s win-loss record to other NHL coaches, and reach the oh-so-obvious conclusion he should be back next season.

But management’s analysis will go far beyond wins and losses, as it should. You don’t and can’t run a team based on numbers alone, though so many Moneyball devotees would like to think you can.

The Canucks took a step back this season, and Vigneault will have to answer in some form for that. Maybe it’ll cost him his job, maybe not. But it’s a discussion that’s worth having.

Related: And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

Leave a comment

Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

Leave a comment

Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS: