Even strength key to getting even
4.16.2010 / 6:45 PM ET
VANCOUVER -- The Kings scored two goals in their Game 1 loss to the Canucks, both of which came on the power play. They were outscored at even strength 2-0, and the Kings know they have to play better at 5-on-5 if they want to go back to Los Angeles tied in this series.
"We have to get our forecheck going," said Kings forward Anze Kopitar. "It's a big part of the five-on-five game. We certainly have to address that and try to be better in that part tomorrow."
Defenseman Sean O'Donnell said the key to the Kings' success is cycling the puck in the Canucks zone. It's simple logic, but if the Kings have the puck, the Canucks don't.
"In the five-on-five, our big thing is we want to have zone time," O'Donnell said. "We feel like if we can play in there, we have a good cycling team, try and wear down the defense. The important thing is when you're cycling down there, you're not giving them any chances. The longer the puck's in their end the chances of you scoring are a lot better. We need to get back to that. That's kind of our bread and butter and we got away from it a little bit last night."
Canucks defenseman had his say Friday morning about his hit on Kings forward Brad Richardson (scroll down), and Richardson offered his assessment later in the day.
"I did turn for sure, but I felt like he kind of took a run at me with his elbows up high," said Richardson, who was sporting five stitches above his right eyebrow because of the hit. "I obviously can't protect myself there, I'm watching the puck. I saw a replay. It's not a clean hit and I think it was the right call."
-- Dave Lozo
Salo gets 'maintenance day;' Alberts discusses hit
4.16.2010 / 4:10 PM ET
VANCOUVER -- Canucks defenseman Sami Salo, who was in and out of the lineup at the end of the regular season for varying reasons, wasn't on the ice for practice Friday morning at GM Place. Coach Alain Vigneault said it wasn't injury- or illness-related and it was just a "maintenance day" for the 35-year-old veteran.
Salo had an assist in the Canucks' 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Los Angeles Kings. He logged 21:24 of ice time in the game.
Fellow defenseman Aaron Rome was back at practice after missing time with an undisclosed injury. Vigneault also wasn't disclosing what role Rome would have, if any, in Game 2 on Saturday.
It was a frustrating Game 1 for Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts. The Kings scored both of their goals on the power play after Alberts' penalties. His interference penalty at the end of the first period led to Jarret Stoll's goal early in the second period, and his major penalty for boarding against Brad Richardson resulted in a goal by Fredrik Modin.
Alberts talked Friday about the major penalty that resulted in his ejection.
"It wasn't intentional," he said. "I was playing physical. Two bodies colliding at the same time. He turned at the last second. That's how it goes.
"I saw a replay a quickly, I haven't sat down and watched it. I thought we just arrived at the same time. If you turn back at the last second there's nothing I can do if I'm committed to the hit. It's the way it's called and let's move on."
Alberts hasn't heard anything from the League about a possible suspension or fine. He also said about the game misconduct: "I didn't think I deserved that. Again, it's not my call. It's what the officials saw."
Asked if he was more frustrated by the first-period interference period that resulted in the first goal of the game, Alberts said, "It's all frustrating. You barely hit a guy and he falls down. They're going to call those."
-- Dave Lozo
O'Donnell talks value of experience
4.15.2010 / 4:10 PM ET
VANCOUVER -- Defenseman Sean O'Donnell is 38 years old, an anomaly in the dressing room of the youthful Los Angeles Kings. Of course that makes him a target for anyone who wants to talk about the lack of experience for some key members of his team.
For Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov, tonight will be their first Stanley Cup Playoff game. So does the relative inexperience of the Kings matter?
"If we don't win, yeah," O'Donnell said. "If we do win, I'm going to say it's a blessing."
For a lot of the Kings who lack playoff experience, they make up for it in other ways.
Doughty won gold right here in Vancouver for Team Canada. Brown and defenseman Jack Johnson were part of Team USA's silver-medal team. Kopitar has played on the international stage and Frolov is hardly a kid at the age of 27.
O'Donnell says he's not the least bit worried about the Kings' playoff newbies.
"We have some guys who are competitors. When they're on the ice they're pretty competitve. When they're off the ice, they're pretty laid back," he said. "I think that's goinng to help these guys, especially starting in Canada here not to get caught up in the whole buzz and feeling and energy and electricty of what's going on.
"I don't think any of them are going to stay up at night tossing and turning or reading their articles or getting on the Internet just reading too much. So I think in that way they're going to be fine."
O'Donnell also talked about his own beginnings and who passed down the savvy veteran knowledge when he was just getting started. He was hesitant to name his mentor for fear of dating himself, but he finally came clean.
"This is going to sound bad. I learned a lot in the minors. My defensive partner was Lindy Ruff," said O'Donnell, who played with the current Sabres coach while with the AHL Rochester Americans in 1991-92. "It was his last year pro, and he's a guy who really taught me a lot. And you can see he's got a calm demeanor. You can see how he's done so well in Buffalo. His teams are just steady every single year. They might not have the most talent, but they're just steady.
"I remember some of the things he taught me. When you make a bad play, just take a deep breath and don't go chasing the guy you made a bad pass to. It's stuff I still remember and stuff I try to pass on to Drew (Doughty) or Jack (Johnson) and some of these other guys."
-- Dave Lozo
Game 1 upsets don't faze Canucks
4.15.2010 / 2:30 PM ET
VANCOUVER -- The opening night of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs featured four upsets and three road teams winning. It was a stark reminder that nothing can be taken for granted this time of year, that your seed doesn't dictate your quality of play and having home-ice advantage can mean nothing.
For the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks, who host the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series Thursday night, those surprises on Wednesday weren't breaking news. They are well aware of the perils and pitfalls of postseason hockey.
"I didn't need last night to realize that," goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "I think we all know everyone starts at zero. We know who we're playing and what type of team they are. By no means is this is an easy series. If we want to win, we have to play well."
"Like you all saw last night, it doesn't mean much," defenseman Shane O'Brien said of the Canucks' home-ice advantage. "Once the puck's dropped, it's a whole new ballgame. You just got to be ready to play and play your systems well and play a full 60-minute game. Those guys work hard on the other side and they're extremely talented. By no means can we take shifts off."
There's plenty of reason for the Canucks to not take the Kings lightly. Since 2005-06, the No. 6 seed has won five of eight first-round series.
Still, the lessons of Wednesday night were learned a long time ago by the Canucks, and coach Alain Vigneault doesn't believe those Game 1s have any bearing on the Game 1 happening at GM Place
"What's happening in the other series has nothing to do with our series," he said. "We know we're up against a very strong and prepared and tough opponent. Tonight's Game 1 and we're going to be ready for it. We've been looking forward to this for quite some time."
-- Dave Lozo
You sexy thing
4.14.2010 / 4:15 PM ET
When Canucks coach Alain Vigneault stepped to the podium Wednesday morning in the bowels of GM Place, there wasn't much for him to discuss in terms of fresh news.
Vigneault said defenseman Sami Salo, who has been in and out of the lineup lately, is still expected to play Thursday night in Game 1 against the Los Angeles. Alex Burrows, who ranked just 16th in power-play ice time for the Canucks this season, could see more time with the man-advantage on the second unit with Ryan Kesler and Kyle Wellwod.
With the news out of the way, it was time for the interesting portion of the press conference to begin.
A reporter asked Vigneault about the daily routine of players during the postseason. Things like exercise and practice and time to rest and eating habits.
Then at the end of the lengthy question about the daily activities of the players, the reporter also mentioned sex. Vigneault, without missing a beat, had the answer that got the press room chuckling.
"You have sex everyday?"
Once the laughter subsided, he did attribute his team's terrific play this season in the third period -- their 101 goals in the final period are second to Washington's 112 -- to the team's off-ice program for the players.
"I think for all the other things before the sex, we do a real good job making sure about the conditioning, the nutrition," Vigneault said. "Everything that we can control, that we should control as far as professional teams, we do. And I believe that's probably one of the reasons our record in the third period has been so solid and so strong.
"As far as the sex goes, that's none of my business," he said while barely able to control his laughter. "They can do what they want."
Vigneault elaborated on the move to let Burrows see the ice a little more often on the power play.
"In that situation it's just him or (Steve) Bernier and it's about a net-front presence," he said. "We've got a few defensemen who really shot the puck real well. For that shot to be effective you need a net-front presence."
Burrows had 35 goals this season, but just four on the power play. It was pointed out to Vigneault that it was quite odd to see that sort of disparity, but he offered only, "I'm a different guy," as an explanation for Burrows' lack of power-play time this season.
"I think it gives us a different look with a lefty out there," Kesler said of using Burrows instead of Bernier, who is right-handed. "If he does get in we're going to need him to produce, and he knows it."
Despite now having an Olympic gold medal to his credit now, goaltender Roberto Luongo was still forced to answer a question about his reputation -- fair or unfair -- about his lack of his success in the high-pressure world of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Luongo was asked if he is all upset that there are still people questioning him despite backstopping Canada to gold this year in Vancouver.
"I just worry about doing my job," Luongo said. "The only people who (I care about) are the guys in this locker room. I play for those guys and we play together as a team. At the end of the day we're the ones competing for the Cup, so that's all that matters to me."
-- Dave Lozo