By Derek Jory
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Following a 4-2 loss to the LA Kings Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-Final, the Vancouver Canucks reiterated that it’s a long series and winning four games is the objective, not winning the opening game.
The Canucks held an optional practice Thursday with 14 skaters taking part, alongside Cory Schneider, and afterwards the team preached discipline.
Vancouver was assessed eight penalties in Game 1, one going to Maxim Lapierre, and all that time spent killing penalties, killed the Canucks.
“We’ve got to be more disciplined, but we cannot stop playing our physical game too, so we’re going to have to find the fine line,” said Lapierre. “We’ve got to keep being physical, the ref has the last call and if he calls it a penalty, that means it was a penalty.
“Obviously we’re not happy with the result last night and we’re going to fix that tomorrow.”
How exactly the Canucks fix their game will come in answering questions coach Alain Vigneault addressed in his press conference.
“We need to have an answer for Kopitar’s line, they were real effective last night, generated numerous amount of chances,” said Vigneault. “We need to have an answer for Penner, who was a powerful force down in our own end, and we need to have an answer for Richards, who played one of the best games I’ve seen him play since he’s been in LA.”
The Canucks are raring to get back on the ice and play their game, although this calm, cool, collected group, backed with worlds of experience from their run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, isn’t panicking.
Despite not practicing, instead taking time to rest, Roberto Luongo still addressed the media.
“They have a good team on the other side, so we’ve got to respect that and we didn’t think we were going to sweep the series by any means,” said Luongo. “Right now we’ve just got to be focused on winning tomorrow night, we’ve got to shift our attention to that right away and make sure we’re ready to play and put our best effort on the ice.”
Luongo was easily Vancouver’s best player recording 35 saves in the loss; were it not for his brilliance Game 1 would have been lopsided in Los Angeles’ favour.
That is of little consolation to Luongo.
“I felt pretty good, but at the end of the day at this point of the year, it’s about wins and losses. That’s the only thing that matters and you definitely want to give your team a chance to win, but at the same time a W is what matters.”
Bitz awaiting word
Canucks forward Byron Bitz had a conference call with Brendan Shanahan, VP of hockey and business development and head disciplinarian, and word has not surfaced as to if he will be suspended for his boarding major on Kyle Clifford.
Bitz stood tall post-practice, disappointed in himself for the hit and the resulting goal.
"I had no intention of targeting the head or injuring anybody, that’s not the way I play,” said Bitz. “It was an unfortunate play, the referees made the call and it cost our team a goal. It’s my fault. “It’s tough. The way I play, I have to finish my hits and the play happened and the refs made the call and it cost our team a goal, so I don’t feel very good about it.”
Quote of the day
”That’s a subject I’d rather not touch” – Coach Alain Vigneault on the 13 combined penalties handed out in Game 1.