"Don't be too complacent and forget to watch some games. Who here would be surprised by any of these 16 teams winning in the first round? This year's playoffs look about as tightly contested as we've ever seen. Bad bounces are going to happen and if Vancouver get nothing but perimeter shots into a wall of shot-blocking Kings, they'll find themselves in the upset column."
It's not that I had a bad feeling about this team, but I felt like nothing would surprise me - out in round one, or back in the finals both seemed possible. It really seems that the one thing you can take from the playoffs thus far is the confirmation that it's ridiculously difficult to win the Cup and further to that, you'd better win it if you get the chance: ask Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton, Florida, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Each of these teams has had appearances in the finals, lost and then not been anywhere close in the subsequent years.
So what can we say about the 2011-2012 Canucks?
- Capable, but ultimately, not that hungry. Maybe knowing what a long road it is to get to the finals actually hurt them. They said the right things during the season, but they never ramped up the intensity needed to win in the post-season. The Kings, on the other hand, were peaking and full of confidence heading in. Which leads to...
I'm in agreement with Henrik that they simply could not afford to go down 2-0 in games. The confidence that the Kings came in with was inflated further by winning the first two games on the road. It made Vancouver's path to winning the series that much tougher. Had they won last night, they might have started to get the Kings feeling a little vulnerable, but as it was LA didn't play nervous the entire series. You could go as far as saying the series was lost in game 1.
Kesler: I know he sometimes has shut-down reponsibilities that stifle his offensive contributuions, but you would think that wouldn't be the case against LA. Maybe everyone is now seeing that LA has good forward depth, ideally suited to the playoffs... but without Mr. Kesler providing some offense, this team can't score enough goals. This is most likely the biggest difference between this year and last - Kesler simply didn't score enough. I don't think you can totally blame Gillis for moving forward with the assumption that Kesler could be counted on for a high level of offense, but in hindsight, they needed more scoring help and Booth was obviously not the answer.
Sedins: I find it unfortunate that we didn't get to see them play more games because I think we were seeing them have a little more post-season success this year. Both ended up at 1 point-per-game in a low-scoring series and particularly Henrik played with more passion than ever. Playing 2 games without Daniel might easily have been the key factor in the series. Thanks for that, Dunc.
Coaching: I don't think AV has lost the room, but I've never been so sure about his ability to adjust to different opponents. It could be that a new approach from the coaching staff, but as others have mentioned, I would NOT pull the trigger before being confident in a replacement.
Goaltending: aside from the who to start stories, kind of a non-issue. It was plenty good enough to win.
Defense: there sure was a loss of composure at times and it cost them some very untimely goals against. Can we close the book on Edler and say he's not a great playoff performer? I don't know that we can afford his salary if he's going to have to play less minutes. Bieksa seemed a bit invisible. Sami unfortunately may have turned the corner as he seems to have lost his knack for the game-saving/winning play. No shame there, but he may be done.