Kings Ready to Pop Off against Canucks in Playoffs
In the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs both the Kings and the Vancouver Canucks have to questions at the net, but that is certainly not the only factor in this playoff series.
In their last game of their season series, the Canucks came into town with their chests out having beaten the Kings up to that point. Coming off of a one-goal performance against the Phoenix Coyotes, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo gave up eight goals to a desperate Kings team on April Fools’ Day for the 8-3 loss.
“When I was in Florida we traded for Luongo from the Islanders, so I know the quality guy and goaltender that he is,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said after that game. “He’s a world class goaltender, and maybe we just caught him in a situation.”
After all, the 30-year old Luongo was the gold medal winning goalie for the Canadian hockey team in Vancouver replacing Martin Brodeur after that embarrassing 5-3 loss to Team USA in group play. However after giving up those eight goals, Luongo would play in only three games thereafter all at home winning twice against the hapless Minnesota and Calgary teams and losing in a shootout to Colorado.
For the Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has his own set of issues. He has gone winless in his last eight games not having won since March 22 against Colorado, and when he leaves the crease to handle the puck it can be quite the adventure. After taking two games off to rest his legs or work on mechanics or whatever excuse the Kings wanted to throw out there, it was clear that Eric Ersberg and AHL goalie of the year Jonathan Bernier was more dynamic in the crease. While that would probably cause some uncertainty at goal with other teams Murray will stand by Quick with statements like, “Quick is a good puck handler. He’s one of the top guys in the league, I think, in the top five.”
As for the team itself the Canucks’ speed has killed the Kings during the season. Murray has been so concerned about it that he was toying with the third line during practice this week Brad Richardson on the left and Wayne Simmonds on the right with Michal Handzus in the center.
As Murray said in that April 1 game, “Vancouver is a tough team to play against. They’re physical. They’re hard. They really shut things down in the neutral zone. They make it difficult to get any speed generated.”
The Kings will have their hands full trying to contain Henrik Sedin, winner of the Art Ross Trophy for scoring the most points in the league with 112, who was hot down the stretch notching seven assists in his last four games.
And there’s the problem about playoff experience which the Kings lack. With the exception of defenseman Rob Scuderi who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, Fredric Modin and Ryan Smyth, the Kings are very wet behind the ears when it comes to late spring hockey.
Despite everything they have going against them, the Kings are stupid enough to be unaware that they’re supposed to lay down for the Canucks. The Kings will win this series in seven games.
Tonight's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be seen on Fox Sports West locally or on Versus outside LA at 7:00 pm and heard on AM 570 KLAC and the rest of the Kings Radio Network.