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Series at a glance: Vancouver-Los Angeles playoff preview

Apr 8, 2012, 4:40 PM EDT

Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Wednesday April 11 in Vancouver @ 10:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Friday April 13 in Vancouver @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Sunday April 15 in Los Angeles @ 10:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Wednesday April 18 in Los Angeles @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Sunday April 22 in Vancouver @ TBD (TBD)
*Tuesday April 24 in Los Angeles @ TBD (TBD)
*Thursday April 26 in Vancouver @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Will Roberto Luongo be on a short leash? Luongo will start in Game 1, but what happens if he has a bad night? What if the Canucks lose two playoff games in a row? Backup Cory Schneider had a 1.96 GAA and .937 save percentage in 33 games this season, so he’s more than qualified to take over if Luongo struggles.

2. Are the Kings a better team than they were two years ago? In 2010, the Canucks beat the Kings in six games in their first-round series. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, and goaltender Jonathan Quick made up the core of that 2010 squad and they are all still with Los Angeles and closer to their primes. Los Angeles has also added to their top two lines by acquiring Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, although the latter is day-to-day with an ankle injury.

3. The importance of coming out strong. The Canucks have shown an ability to battle back after they’ve fallen behind and Los Angeles largely hasn’t. The Kings had a 8-22-7 record when they surrendered the first goal of the game, which was the third worst in the NHL and particularly troubling given Vancouver’s propensity for scoring first. The Kings also had the second-worst winning percentage when trailing after either one or two periods. By comparison, the Canucks were the most likely team in the NHL to bounce back if they were trailing after one period.

Records

Vancouver: 51-22-9, 111 points (1st in Northwest; 1st in Western Conference) | Los Angeles: 40-27-15, 95 points (3rd in Pacific; 8th in Western Conference)

Leading scorers

Vancouver: Henrik Sedin (14G-67A-81PTS) | Los Angeles: Anze Kopitar (25G-51A-76PTS)

Starting goalies

Vancouver: Roberto Luongo (31-14-8, 2.41 GAA) | Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick (35-21-13, 1.95 GAA)

Head-to-head

Season series tied at 2-2
Nov. 10: Vancouver 3, at Los Angeles 2
Dec. 31: At Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 1
Jan. 17: Los Angeles 3, at Vancouver 2, SO
March 26: At Vancouver 1, Los Angeles 0

Last 10 games

Vancouver: 8-1-1 | Los Angeles: 5-2-3

Playoff history

Series tied 2-2
1982: Vancouver 4-1 (Smythe Division finals)
1991: Los Angeles 4-2 (Smythe Division semifinals)
1993: Los Angeles 4-2 (Smythe Division finals)
2010: Vancouver 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Vancouver: Def. Chicago 4-3 (Western Conference quarterfinals); def. Nashville 4-2 (Western Conference semifinals); def. San Jose 4-1 (Western Conference finals); lost to Boston 4-3 (Stanley Cup finals) | Los Angeles: Lost to San Jose 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals)

Stanley Cups

Vancouver: None | Los Angeles: None

Injuries

Vancouver: Zack Kassian (upper body), Keith Ballard (concussion), Daniel Sedin (concussion), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder), Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder)

Los Angeles: Jeff Carter (ankle), Scott Parse (hip), Kevin Westgarth (hand), Simon Gagne (concussion)

  1. trbowman - Apr 8, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Kings in seven

  2. psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    The Kings have three players who have come back from down 3-0 in a series. They won’t be scared.

    • danphipps01 - Apr 8, 2012 at 6:16 PM

      Fear isn’t the issue. Vancouver’s enormous edge in firepower is.

  3. canuckdude82 - Apr 8, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Kings blew their chance at the second round losing to San Jose last night.

  4. highlander24 - Apr 8, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Although the season series is tied at 2-2 and the Canucks have dominated in recent history, the Kings have handled them much better this team around. No game has been a blowout. The Kings have contented even in the two losses. Plus the key to Vancouver’s success is their ability to punk and bully other teams, which the Kings haven’t let happen. With the experience from two years ago and proven ability to content, the Kings should fair much better this time around. 1 vs. 8 might not be what it seems. All we need to do is score, early and often. GO KINGS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • kitshky - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:15 PM

      So now Vancouver punks and bully’s teams!? I thought they were p*ssy wimpy, whiny, divers?

  5. highlander24 - Apr 8, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    *time *contended *contend. I blame autocorrect!

  6. loinstache - Apr 8, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Although the regulation season isn’t a good indication of the playoffs, the Canucks played their worst hockey in a stretch that included 2 games against the Kings. LA may have stellar D and goaltending, but they can’t control a game like the ‘Nucks do. Van has greatly improved their ability to strike and shut a game down, and then counter-attack when the other team is forced to open up. I call Van in 6, with 4 games being decided by a single goal.

  7. phillyphever - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Vancouver in a sweep. LA will be lucky to steal a game at this point.

  8. chocotay77 - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    van city in 5 games

  9. babar61 - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    I agree, Canucks in 5.

  10. highlander24 - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    @kitshky haha that too. Was just putting it more gently I guess.

  11. blomfeld - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    CLOSE FOR ACTION !
    _________________

    It’s good to see some fellow Kings supporters here ! … hey man, how’s it going ? :)
    The way I see it friends, the Canucks have three key weak spots which we Kings need to exploit, in order for us to prevail …

    1) Roberto Luongo … this $65 million dollar Italian sieve is probably the most over-rated goalie in the league, as the only thing going for this clown are his over-sized pads … when he gives up goals, he gives them up in bushels .. therefore it’s important that we focus our lethal firepower directly at this fool, with unrelenting ferocity …

    2) Sister Act 2 … the Sedin brothers are good people no doubt … nonetheless, it’s important we adopt the Boston template from last year by really sticking it to them ! … the Swedish mind is averse to confrontation and strife and therefore we need to capitalize on that in no uncertain terms …

    3) Arrogance … trust me friends, I live here in Vancouver and right now the entire city is talking about making it “16 victories” this time around … on the radio, they keep going on and on about us “all” being Canucks … you talk to any Canucks fan on the street and they’ll tell you straight up that reaching the Stanley Cup finals is already a “fait accompli” as far as they’re concerned … this arrogance is probably the biggest chink in their armor and we Kings need to exploit that to the fullest … the Vancouver Canucks are indeed “bullies” as the commenter above has accurately noted … and the best way to deal with the bully as we all know, is to really “give it” to him, with such force that he doesn’t even know what’s happening ! … a cinematic analogy perhaps could be the following, where a heavily superior French “man-o-war” (ie: the Canucks) thinks it’s about to sink it’s teeth into some helpless prey (ie: the Kings) …

    • mgspike - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:28 AM

      You’re blinded by your love of the kings. Luongo may be over rated but he is far from a sieve. No sieve has ever come one game away from winning the cup or played the vast majority of games in 2 presidents trophy winning seasons. You did get the second point right about the sedins being good people. You can try and bully them but the kings are no Boston bruins. And you’re now talking about bullying as a key to victory, so what’s so bad about it when the Canucks “bully” as you claim? And who on the Canucks are the bullies anyways? The sedins? Mason Raymond? Alex elder? Higgins? Burrows, kesler, lappiere, bieksa etc are all far from being bullies. They are simply Hard working players who are aggravating to play against due to their speed and aggressive forechecking. Bully is the wrong word when describing the Canucks. I live in Vancouver too but have a different take on this arrogance thing. I find most fans here are confident but know that each round will be extremely difficult and there is always a chance to be upset. We of all fans know that nothing is won until the final game. Gonna be a good series against the kings. Bring it on!

  12. cup0pizza - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    Vancouver easy in this one, probably in 5 as a couple of others have suggested.

  13. homelanddefense - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Id love to see the Kings win this, but my head tells me Vancouver in 6

  14. bensawesomeness - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    LA could do the winner of Detroit- Nashville a HUGE favor here – Vancouver’s the only team on the West side of the bracket that ‘scares’ me

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