The Go-To Guy: The 1-3-1, Podkolzin, and other notes from a 3-2 Canucks loss to the Kings

I feel groggy this morning. When attempting to determine why I feel this way, it usually comes down to two reasons: Lack of sleep, or too much sleep.

I woke up this morning with lingering feelings of apathy, dread, and other negative connotations one would use when describing the word “groggy”; but I wasn’t entirely sure as to why? I mean, I got ~8 hours of sleep, which should be the perfect amount.

So, as one does, I asked my mom why I might be feeling this way. She said: “Sean, you watched Los Angeles Kings hockey for three hours and then got 8 hours of sleep: Of course you’re feeling groggy”. 

She’s right: If you’re having the same problem that I’m having this morning, just remember that you essentially got 10-11 hours of sleep last night.

We all anticipated an absolute slog fest and the L.A. Kings delivered, as is customary for them. I know that I bash their 1-3-1 system a lot (and I won’t stop) but there’s no doubt that it works. The Canucks had no answer for it in the 3rd period, especially; repeatedly dumping the puck in, chasing after it, losing battles, and then circling back to try again.

The Kings’ structure frustrated the Canucks for the second time this season, but there were some positives to take away from the loss.

A guide to breaking down the 1-3-1 with Sam Lafferty and Vasily Podkolzin

This game started with a ton of physicality, especially from the Canucks. Nikita Zadorov continued to provide aura for this team, launching Blake Lizotte into next week with a thunderous hit.

Adrian Kempe wanted to join in on the fun, but instead of laying a big hit he simply cross checked Carson Soucy…

The Canucks powerplay didn’t generate a single good look.

Kempe eventually exited the penalty box and was met by J.T. Miller, who simply dumped him the moment he got the chance to. Listen, I would much rather watch the Canucks face literally any other team in round one (from a sheer entertainment value perspective) but these two teams clearly don’t like one another, and Miller and Kempe were especially going at each other throughout the first period.

L.A. would eventually open the scoring thanks to the Canuck killer Kevin Fiala, who received a pass in front from Pierre-Luc Dubois and one-timed the puck on his strong side.

That’s not all, though! Watch this goal and see if you can spot what went wrong,

Brock Boeser misses his check and decides that backchecking isn’t an option for this particular instance; yet that wasn’t even the worst part of the goal. Quinn Hughes goes for a change as L.A. is carrying the puck in transition – which is totally fine – but what isn’t fine is that no one jumped on the ice!!!!!

A tough breakdown, a bad change, and Brock Boeser opting to be lazy: A recipe for success. 1-0 for the bad guys.

I really don’t get how the Canucks consistently opt for the dump and chase formula against a Kings team that can easily counter it… oh, great, here comes the fourth line.

Time for more dump and chase hockey!

…Why is Vasily Podkolzin actually cooking here?

Oh, he just stapled someone to the boards, freeing the puck for Sam Lafferty.

I want to quickly go over the top 10 reasons why Sam Lafferty is the greatest hockey player to ever lace them up for the Vancouver Canucks:


1 – This play:

Sam Lafferty with an absolute game-breaking play, spinning off of one L.A. defender, taking advantage of Vasily Podkolzin tying up Vladislav Gavrikov in front, and driving the net for an absolute stunner. The fourth line cooked, ate, and left no crumbs. It was a strong night for the Podkolzin-Suter-Aman line, especially Podkolzin who throwing the body and creating chances in tight all game long; but Lafferty got the ball rolling.

We’re all tied up at one apiece.

The Canucks came alive for the end of the first period, generating some quality looks for the first time all game. It finally seems like the Canucks are getting going- and as I say that, Quinn Hughes gets called for one of the weakest slashes I’ve ever seen.

The officiating in this one was what you’d expect from the NHL and was far from being the main issue for the Canucks last night… but, wow, this call was so soft that it may as well be Charmin Ultra. The good news is that the penalty kill was, again, razor sharp. The Kings simply couldn’t break into the offensive zone, and when they did, they couldn’t set up shop.

Vancouver continued their physical play ’til the first buzzer went off and they left the ice after one, tied at one. It was a solid, solid period for them once they got on the scoresheet (thanks, Sam).

Who needs melatonin, anyway?

In case you don’t know what melatonin is:

 “a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and with sleep.”
– National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
I think I have found a perfect replacement: Just watch the final fourty minutes of this Canucks vs Kings game.
The Canucks had the puck throughout the second period but weren’t able to consistently generate much of anything. The Höglander-Pettersson-Garland line looked good at times and Teddy Blueger had another wicked game. Side note: We really need to give Teddy Blueger his flowers more often; he may not score a ton of goals, but his playmaking is an extremely underrated part of his toolkit.
Guess what happened late in the frame. If you guessed: “The Kings got a bounce” then you’d be correct!
Well, sort of. Try three.

Carson Soucy has been so good that the puck needs to bounce off of his skates three times (!) for it to go in when he’s on the ice.

But hey, the Canucks have typically battled adversity with ease this season. Surely they’ll bounce back after such a tough break, right?

If a “bounce back” involves Anze Kopitar extending the Kings lead to 3-1, then I guess the Canucks are continuing the trend?

I, personally, would have really liked a save there from Casey DeSmith. His puck tracking during net-front scrambles has been a consistent issue all year and it was no different last night.

Boeser would eventually bring the Canucks within one late in the third period with a lucky one, but that would prove to not be enough as the Kings came away with a 3-2 victory at Rogers Arena.

Let’s do some housekeeping before I wrap this up.

The Zadorov – Hronek experiment was a disaster

Rick Tocchet opted to put his defensive pairings in a blender last night and it wasn’t that bad, unless we’re talking about the Zadorov – Hronek pairing. They had the lowest xGF% amongst all Canucks defencemen, and it was just brain fart after brain fart all night.

I don’t think I want to see Phil Di Giuseppe in the lineup again

Ah yes, playing Mr. Dump n’ Chase in the top six against the L.A. Kings is surely the way to go about things.

Easily the Canucks’ worst player last night. He’s a fine 13th forward and not someone who should be playing in the top six.

Vasily Podkolzin is looking confident

There weren’t many bright spots last night, but among them was Vasily Podkolzin. The Russian power forward continued to throw his weight around and create chances in tight. I hope we see more of that.

Dallas on Thursday

The Canucks are set to face the Dallas Stars on Thursday with another chance to clinch a playoff spot. The Stars are one of the scariest teams in the entire NHL this season and have a ton of quality depth.

If the Canucks win, they’ll have a chance to clinch their first playoff berth in nine years.

I say they do it.

We’ll talk then.

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