April 22, 2012; Vancouver, BC, CANADA; Los Angeles Kings forward Brad Richardson (15) scores against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider (35) during the third period of game five of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE
After taking the President's Trophy, the Vancouver Canucks have fallen in just five games to the Los Angeles Kings, but should blame truly go to goaltending or to the team's lackluster offensive production on home ice?
A controversy is brewing in Vancouver after the Canucks were eliminated by the Kings in Game 5 of the series on Sunday in overtime, 2-1. While fans compare Roberto Luongo to Cory Schneider this offseason, the real concern that should be addressed by the club's management is that the club which led the Western Conference in goal scoring this season failed to produce more than two goals in all but one game of its series. Not to mention the overall weak showing for the Canucks on their home ice.
Unsurprisingly, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler led the team in postseason scoring, but only three other players managed more than a single point in the series. Unlike last season, where Vancouver received timely goals from players like Jannik Hansen, Raffi Torres and Chris Higgins, the Canucks found themselves in a position where they seemed to continually look to their star players, particularly on the power play, rather than engaging directly.
The Canucks did manage more than 40 shots in their Game 3 victory and Game 4 loss, but their performances at home were much more lackluster -- 26 shots in game one (while allowing 39 for Los Angeles), 30 in Game 2 with 44 for LA) and 27 in their Game 5 elimination (allowing 39 once again).
If the team does see major changes in the offseason, one would think that the first place to look is not the goal crease, but the head coach's office. After failing to adjust and seemingly depending on the return of Daniel Sedin, rather than formulating a concrete plan for dealing with Jonathan Quick and the physical yet disciplined tone set by the Kings, the end could be near for Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
Perhaps a healthy lineup from the start of the series might have made a difference, but part of the coach's responsibility is to account for such losses and to help his club keep focused on home ice.
Meanwhile, the Kings' surprising run behind Jonathan Quick will continue as they take on the Blues in a series that will bring together two of the best goaltenders of the postseason. Los Angeles will need to continue its surprising offensive surge while maintaining the strong defensive play that helped the Blues make the postseason in the first place.