Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why blaming a league conspiracy makes you look like a jackass

The Kings beat the Canucks last night to take a 2-1 lead in the series. It was the first home playoff game for the Kings since 2002, and I was fully expecting them to come out flat and go down early. They did.

Once they were down 1-0, everything changed. The Kings started to match Vancouver's physicality, they started generating some offense, and they earned a power play. They scored, tying the game before the first intermission.

During the second period, they scored on another two power plays. They also scored an ugly, ugly goal that went five hole on Luongo while he was, presumably, checking out Bailey dumping popcorn on Canucks fans. That marked the end of Luongo's night and a 4-1 lead for the Kings.

The lead would get shaved a goal on some complacent defense, leaving the score 4-2 Kings at the second break. Already, Vancouver fans were saying things like "the fix is in!" and "Bettman has ruled: no Canadian teams to the second round."

These morons were further convinced of a massive NHL conspiracy against their team when an apparent goal was called back after the officials in Toronto determined that it had been kicked in. It was a bad call, but not a terrible one, and the Canucks would go on to score seconds later anyway. Regardless, the score was 4-3, and even if it had been 4-4, it would've been irrelevant to the final outcome, as Smyth scored on a knucklepuck to give the Kings their fifth goal.
So now, the bellyaching continues.

Direct quotes from Vancouver fan message boards:
  • This entire series is bull.
  • The Kings have gotten almost every call and bounce. The Canucks have been bad too, but they're not even being given a ****ing chance here!
  • Who cares about integrity, its profit thats important. **** this corrupt league.
  • This is bull****! Why do I keep on watching this joke of a league? I honestly am starting to believe the conspiracy theories.
  • Bettman paid off the refs to generate first round upsets.
  • I am livid right now. WHY do we need to go into every single playoffs KNOWING the refs will screw us for Bettman's darling teams. There is NO way its just coincidence or bad luck at this point. It happens every single year.
I wish these were joking, or ironic, or self-deprecating, but they're not. Canucks fans are serious when they say that the NHL is trying to screw them.

With that in mind, here are the statistics that matter:

Kings: 3/3 power play, 4/4 penalty kill
Canucks: 0/4 power play, 0/3 penalty kill

Jon Quick: 25 saves, 28 shots, 3 GA (3 even strength)
Luongo/Raycroft: 18 saves, 23 shots, 5 GA (3 PP, 2 even strength)

If a team cannot score with an extra skater despite getting more power plays, cannot prevent the other team from scoring on the power play, cannot muster an .800 save percentage, goes several power plays without a shot, misses empty nets, allows several odd-man rushes, can't clear the zone, and turns the puck directly over to opposing forwards tens of times in a game, the problem lies with the team, not the league.

Vancouver drew more penalties than Los Angeles, had a disallowed goal replaced with a counted goal, had a substantial amount of 6 on 4 time at the end of the game, and still couldn't win.

The Canucks lost this game because they played like crap. I find it important to emphasize that the only reason the Canucks won a game this series is because they got an incredibly lucky save on the goal line in overtime in game 1. The puck bounces both ways, and ignoring fortune and focusing exclusively on unluckiness is a trademark of baseball, not hockey. I heartily encourage Vancouver fans to look at their team's road record, their depleted defense, and shoddy goalie before blaming the NHL for their playoff woes.

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