Let's get one thing out of the way right now: unless you're going to spend this week punching your computer monitor (and if you do, send a pic in), it's best you prepare yourself for a week of awful predictions (that's your cue Scott Burnside), increased Luongo bashing and an overuse of the term "dark horse" to the point where it could choke a chubby girl at the Roxy. OK?
Generally speaking, Vancouver has the edge in offense, LA has the edge in speed and healthy bodies and much of the rest is eerily similar. That includes the goalies who - let's be honest - have both sucked and will be under the most pressure when this starts (Luongo surrendered 33 goals in March, Quick gave up 32). But the post season often means anyone can catch lightning in a bottle (cliche!) so take the regular season results with a grain of salt (more cliches!).
Respect the Kings? Of course. But a certain amount of playoff-driven angst needs to be shared here and the Princely Boys with their frosted tips and disinterested celebrity fans are no exception. Let's take a look at the Kings rank and file that will be entrusted to stopping the Sedins cycle and keep the puck out of the net.
#8 / Defenseman / Los Angeles Kings
Dec 08, 1989
|2009 - Drew Doughty||81||16||42||58||19||54||9||0||5||0||141||11.3|
Doughty was the youngest Canadian Olympian to win a gold in February and is the Kings anchor on the blueline. In just his sophomore season he more than doubled his points from his rookie season while only adding about a minute more ice time per game. Along with Scuderi, Doughty will likely be trusted with the Sedins, at least to start the each game. Along with Handzus up front, Doughty will also be seen in most defensive zone starts for obvious reasons. For what it's worth, he hasn't had the best year against the Canucks: he notched two assists and six PIMs but was -4 in four games, his worst against any NHL team this season. Regardless, it's a safe bet that he (along with Dustin Brown) will be the players we learn to hate once this thing is over.
#7 / Defenseman / Los Angeles Kings
Dec 30, 1978
|2009 - Rob Scuderi||72||0||11||11||15||21||0||0||0||0||38||0.0|
Scuderi may have the best player profile picture I have seen; like he realized he shit himself but the puck is coming. At any rate, the former Pens blueliner took a hit stats wise this year but he didn't earn his four year deal from Los Angeles for offense either. Besides the Cup experience, he's a shutdown blueliner who can cause a great deal of angst for the Sedins or anyone else. Scuderi and Doughty provide the Kings a formidable one-two punch on defense. He finished with no points and a -2 against Vancouver this season.
#3 / Defenseman / Los Angeles Kings
Jan 13, 1987
|2009 - Jack Johnson||79||8||28||36||-14||48||3||0||0||0||128||6.3|
Jack gives the Kings a frustrating one-two-three punch on defense actually. Johnson should remember us from his first game but, then again, his first goal came against Luongo so perhaps that's adequate revenge. He crushed his career best stats this season by a factor of three and is another threat to to line up against the Sedins or Kesler lines though his qualcomp suggests he's shielded so he may get the weaker Wellwood line. Check his +/-; that's the worst for all Kings defensemen. Though this season he had two assists, two PIMs and was +2 against the Canucks and, if we're real lucky, he'll blog about his first post season experiences or perhaps the best place to grab a mani-pedi while your toy poodle goes for doggy yoga.
#12 / Defenseman / Los Angeles Kings
Jul 23, 1981
|2009 - Randy Jones||47||5||16||21||-2||28||1||1||1||0||54||9.3|
Andrew Alberts has an ex-Flyer buddy in Randy Jones, a puck mover who had a rebound year with the Kings and had a good season against Vancouver (3A, +4, 8 PIMs). Though a decent-sized blueliner, Jones doesn't use his body terribly well, isn't a big hitter and can go on a mental vacation sometimes when it comes to proper defensive coverage. He's another guy the qualcomp suggests is shielded from top players, so using the last change at home to get the first or second lines out against him could turn crucial. Rudy Kelly from BoC was kind enough to describe him as basically always shitty so let's hope Randy continues that.
#2 / Defenseman / Los Angeles Kings
May 13, 1983
|2009 - Matt Greene||74||2||6||8||3||83||0||0||1||0||55||3.6|
Another stay at home guy, the former Oiler was part of the Jarret Stoll/Lubomir Visnovsky trade from two years ago and signed a five year deal shortly thereafter. It's easy to equate Greene to Alberts: big guy who can crush you but is as nimble as a cruise ship. The speedier Raymond or Grabner (if he plays) could use that to their advantage, especially in the neutral zone. Similar to Jones, using the last change to get the Sedins out would be ideal. He had no points and seven PIMs against Vancouver this year.
|2009 - Sean O`Donnell||77||3||11||14||13||70||0||0||1||0||43||7.0|
Fun fact: O'Donnell was actually traded for Willie Mitchell back when he was on the Wild in 2001. He bounced around for a few years but did win a Cup with Anaheim in 2006-07. He's a big punishing-type player, but at 38, is slowing down and is prone to - wait for it - bad penalties that hurt his team. Hooray! He had four PIM's and was +1 with no points against the Canucks this year.
#32 / Goalie / Los Angeles Kings
Jan 21, 1986
|2009 - Jonathan Quick||72||4258||39||24||180||2.54||1927||1747||.907||4|
In his third NHL season, Quick has emerged as the Kings #1 goalie: in 77 games this year, he had a respectable 2.54 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He's a huge reason the Kings are where they are, but there seems to be a debate suggesting they overworked him and that has lead to his drop off in March (remember Luongo being overworked in his second season when the Canucks failed to make the post season?). From the LA Times:
The physical and emotional readiness of goaltender Jonathan Quick has become an issue for the Kings. He was rested for two games last week to work on his technique and give him a mental break, but he’s winless since his return after an overtime loss to the Ducks on Saturday and a no-decision against the Ducks on Tuesday in which he gave up three goals on eight shots and had to watch the Kings’ rally from the bench.
Quick was scheduled to start against the Coyotes on Thursday at Staples Center, his seventh attempt at winning his 40th game of the season. He has two no-decisions, three regulation losses and an overtime loss since his last win, March 22 against Colorado.
Against Vancouver this year, he had a 0-2-1 record, a 2.28 GAA and a .908 save%.
#31 / Goalie / Los Angeles Kings
Mar 08, 1982
|2009 - Erik Ersberg||10||490||3||3||21||2.57||202||181||.896||0|
Also in his third season, Ersberg had a career worst .896 save% this year but was sparingly used because (a) Quick is a workhorse and (b) they tried Jonathan Bernier in a few games too (including the 8-3 loss Vancouver suffered a few weeks ago). Ersberg played the final game on Sunday against the Avs, so either they're giving Quick more mental time to get back in shape or seeing what Ersberg has in case he's needed in the offseason. Or both? There isn't too much more to say; Ersberg has never played Vancouver in his career and we'll only see him if Quick truly collapses and, even then, LA may elect to call up Bernier and run with him instead.