Law of Averages: Canucks in 6

In the 2010 NHL playoffs, Vancouver draws the 6th seeded Los Angeles Kings, whom they bested 3 games to 1 in their 4 game season series.

... but they limited Los Angeles to 1 goal each of their previous 3 meetings (photo by Yardbarker)

April Fool's: The Canucks may not have been laughing April 1st, but...

When covering playoff series in Fantasy leagues, I will often refer readers first to the season series.  It doesn’t always tell the full tale of the tape, and there are always anomalies, but usually offers a rough, workable outline.  I’m not a full on mathematician, but percentages and probability rate factor into most sports.  I haven’t seen the “Las Vegas line” for this series, but I’m assuming Vancouver is a favorite to win this series.

Being a Western conference team, the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks were scheduled 4 regular season games.  Using this as my reference point, the numbers indicate the Canucks won the lions share, 75% of the games this season.  Here’s a quick breakdown of those contests:

Roberto Luongo must not allow their final game with L.A. to phase him

Oct. 29, 2009  – Whether a fan of the shootout or not, it’s here, and it favored the Canucks.  Scott Parse opened scoring in the 1st period, and Mikael Samuelsson answered in the 2nd period.  Samuelsson would also roof a beautiful backhand shot past Jonathan Quick in the shootout.  Andrew Raycroft was an anchor in net, making 30 stops earning a .967 sv %.  Vancouver wins 2-1.

Luongo made 31 saves (.968 sv %) Nov.26th for a 4-1 win over the Kings

Nov. 26, 2009  – Wayne Simmonds officially registers himself as a pain in the Canucks side.  The 21 yr old scores the Kings lone goal and forechecks with aplomb.  Burrows, Henrik, Glass and Wellwood reply for the Canucks, as Luongo begins to overcome a slow start, improves to 8-8-0.  Jonathan Quick makes 30 stops and records a .909 sv %.

Dec. 14, 2009 – The Kings get a good taste of the Canucks 2nd line, who outworked a tired L.A. team.  Ryan Kesler broke open the scoring 64 seconds in on a nice setup from Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond.  Sami Salo pounds one in from the point on a play made by the twins, though Alexander Frolov cut the lead with 7 seconds to go in the 1st period.  Raymond finished off a nice play by Kesler and Shane O’Brien with 5 minutes to go in the third.  Luongo makes 24 saves for a .960 sv % and improves to 14-10-0, as the Canucks win 3-1.

Alex Bolduc gives Rob Scuderi the rough ride at the Staples Center

Apr. 1, 2010 – The Canucks wish that the 8-3 score listed in the newspapers was indeed an April Fool’s joke leader, but it wasn’t.  Sports journalists have a hay day at Roberto Luongo’s expense, quoting “His worst game ever” and “Career low” (.724 sv %) in their columns.  A number of sub-plots also rose to the surface, including Vigneault’s reluctance to pull Luongo despite the run-up score.  Power forward Dustin Brown leads the way with a hat-trick, while Frolov, Kopitar, Stoll, Williams and Handzus contribute singles.  Kyle Wellwood pots a pair, and Ryan Kesler scores in a losing cause.  Jonathan Bernier earns the win with a .900 sv % and 27 saves.

Honestly, I can’t think of a better lesson for the Canucks to learn from in their final regular season meeting with Los Angeles.  “We can’t sit back,” said Ryan Kesler, one of the league’s top defensive forwards, who had a breakout offensive year (75 pts).  “If we change our game and become a defensive-minded team we’re not playing to our strengths.  We have who I think is the best goalie in the NHL and he allows us to take chances offensively.”

Based on the 2009/10 season, the law of averages argues that the Canucks should take this series.  Roberto Luongo should be one of the deciding factors in this series, leveraging them above the Kings and their inexperienced goaltending tandem.  The Sedins are rolling in hot and should prove too much for the Kings, who are going to have a very difficult time limiting Vancouver’s cycle.  Canucks in 6.

Mikael Samuelsson is congratulated by teammates after scoring decisive shootout goal Oct. 29/09

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