April 15, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) during the second period of game three of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals against the Vancouver Canucks at the Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Canucks 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
The lack of Daniel Sedin is a major blow to the Vancouver Canucks, but it's not the only factor in their continued struggles.
With the Vancouver Canucks now in a 3-0 series hole following their 1-0 Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night, many will point to Daniel Sedin's absence should the Kings complete the upset. But that is not the only reason the Western Conference champions are now facing the prospect of a first round elimination.
In last season's first round matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks received five goals from the now-concussed Sedin, but the more important contributions came from secondary sources -- in particular Jannik Hansen and Alexandre Burrows. Each has a goal in the current series to date, but the Kings are proving to be a team that, despite their regular season scoring struggles, can score a big goal when it matters. An early one-goal lead is not a safe margin for the Canucks, regardless of which goaltender they start.
Equally important, the Vancouver blue line has dried up at the worst possible time. Despite Alexander Edler and Kevin Bieksa being top-15 offensive contributors among NHL defensemen this season, neither has made an impact on the series beyond racking up more and more penalty minutes. By doing that, they're taking themselves off the ice at a time when the team needs to see something from them these key contributors beyond "message sending" or "firing up the bench."
The biggest reason for the Canucks' issues, however, may be standing 200 feet away with No. 32 on his jersey.
Jonathan Quick's season already put him in the Vezina Trophy discussion, thanks to his career best regular season stats, including a .929 save percentage and 1.95 goals against average. After the first three games of the quarterfinals, Quick's numbers are, if anything, even more remarkable -- a .965 save percentage and 1.33 goals against average. That's despite facing 115 shots to date, the most of any goaltender in this year's opening round.
Fans in British Columbia are likely to call for changes in the offseason should the underdogs complete the first round sweep of the President's Trophy winners, but the front office in Vancouver may simply need to point to the fact that they ran into a truly immovable object in this series -- particularly if the postseason should end with Quick's name being engraved onto the Conn Smythe Trophy.