Canucks continue to confound Kings

Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo, center, makes the save as Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown, left, jumps to avoid the puck while Justin Williams, right, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver on Monday, Dec. 14, 2009.
Game 35: Canucks 3, Kings 1

The past two days have been surreal. Ever since the Kings have bucked the odds and the critics by reaching the top of the Western Conference, my cell and email have been blowing up by friends.

    "Dude, we should go catch a Kings game..."

    "Matt, Your team has finally come of age. Congrats."

    "How is your team doing this? Don't they know they're the Kings?!?"

    "I found your underwear behind the couch. Again."

Well, with the exception of that last one, that should be proof that the Kings are finally becoming relevant after years of toiling in obscurity. It's given me a taste of sweet revenge, no matter how fleeting the success is now. After all, the Kings can't go undefeated the rest of the way.

And that wasn't more apparent than Monday night, when the Kings finally met their nemeses the Vancouver Canucks. The past two games of the season, the 'Nucks held the Kings to one goal. And Monday's game was no exception.

Ryan Kesler, he of the hilarious NHL 2K10 commercial, scored a minute into the game after a Drew Doughty turnover. Then, a minute later, Terry Murray called a timeout to focus the team. It was a move that seemed to work, at least to coach Terry Murray. From Hammond:
    After the goal, there were a couple more shifts, and we didn’t really jump up to the intensity level of the game. We were kind of waiting around, feeling our way around the game, and seeing how it was going to play out. Vancouver kept coming at us, so we have to get to the attention of the players. I thought, after the timeout, we started to pick it up a bit. I thought, in the second and third periods, there were some good things happening. We had our opportunities on the scoring side of things and we just couldn’t get it done.
The Kings did play better, but failed to take advantage of the chances provided to them. Even with a short two-man advantage, the Kings could only muster a few shots. Alexander Frolov scored the lone Kings goal in the game, giving Anze Kopitar points in three of the last four games.

This game could have gone either way, and I'm pretty positive that had they played again, the Kings would've made it a closer match. If fact, I would like a rematch, Ryan Kelser. I like you, but I'm going to bake you into a lemon bar and eat you.

The Kings lost more than their hold of first place in the West. Jarret Stoll re-aggravated his "lower-body," errrrr, groin injury in the third period. Man, no one is looking forward to the Christmas break more than me. Well, maybe the Kings training staff. It's starting to resemble a M.A.S.H. unit. At least, I won't have to ask Santa what I wanted the last two seasons anymore.

• AP: Kesler helps Canucks beat Kings 3-1

• Kings let the best record get away in 3-1 loss to Vancouver

• Kings fall to Canucks, 3-1

•  Canucks deny Kings of NHL lead

They said it
    “Special teams were the difference. It was a one-goal game, and we had the 5-on-3 and we didn’t generate anything on that. Then they draw a penalty and they scored five seconds into their power play. That made it a two-goal game. Yeah, we came back, and I thought we had a pretty good second period. It’s hard when you chase, especially a team like this with a strong goalie and strong defensive play, it’s hard to chase the whole game.” – Anze Kopitar, on the game
    Everybody is coming to play a good game now. That’s to be expected, whenever you’re in the playoff hunt and playing well as a group. You’ve got to expect the best competition coming from the opposition." –Terry Murray, on being a “target” at the top of the conference
Around the Kingdom
(Ed.note: I apologize for the lack of recapping content in this update. Here's the usual assortment of links, please give these people some clicks. They are all worthy of your love. I have been approached by to do some-year-end stuff, so I need to get cracking on that. If you don't like it, you can ask for a refund. Then again, it's a free blog, so.... Thanks for your patience.)
• The Royal Half: Don't believe the hype

• Loss requires many beers

• Battle Of California: All is right with the world

• MayorsManor: One demon still lives

• Bleacher Report: Top 10 Reasons the Los Angeles Kings Are Near the Top of the NHL Pacific Division

• A Queen Among Kings: Kings are tops in the West

• Views From Section 310: We're number 1... We're number one?!?

• Deep Inside the Kings: Kings Get a Shot at NHL Lead

•  Kings look ahead for December 14-20

From across the aisle, the Vancouver viewpoint

• TSN: Kesler leads Canucks over Kings for third straight win

• Vancouver Sun: Canucks beat Kings for the third time this season

• NUcks MIsconduct: A Vast Sadistic Feast: Canucks-Kings Game Thread

Peeping the dailies

BallHype: hype it up!

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