Expert Predictions Volume 2: The Battle for SoCal

Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another edition of Whose Series is it Anyway, where everything's made up and the predictions don't matter (hopefully)!

USA Today
About the Ducks: "Don't allow the Kings' hitting game to disrupt how they play. Stay away from retaliation penalties. Tighten up defensively. They gave up three goals per game in the first round and own the worst 5-on-5 numbers of the remaining teams. . . The Ducks averaged 27.8 shots per game in the first round. If Quick gets hot and starts stopping 94% of the shots, 27.8 won't be enough to win."

About the Kings: "The Kings are an intimidating playoff foe because they are miserable to play against. They play a rough, physical, brutish style that is very effective in the postseason. Create traffic, congestion, and chaos in front of Andersen [or Hiller]. . . In the first round, the Kings were a higher-scoring team than the Ducks. If Anze Kopitar can out-point Getzlaf in this series, it would be a major factor.

PREDICTION: "Plenty of compelling reasons to take the Ducks in this series, but history is screaming that we should take the Kings in another Game 7. The Kings are a team built to thrive and survive in the tougher playoff setting." Kings in seven
-Kevin Allen

CBS Sports
About the Ducks: "The Ducks clearly have two of the best offensive weapons in the entire NHL in Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf and former Hart winner Corey Perry. The dynamic duo combined for 169 points in the regular season. . . The Ducks have the firepower to steal a game here and there, but can they do it over a seven-game series?. . . When it comes to special teams, both clubs have been among the best in the postseason. Anaheim converted on nearly 27 percent of its power plays. . . The Ducks turned away 89.7 percent of Dallas' power-play attempts."

About the Kings: "The Kings are among the best possession teams in the NHL. In fact, they led the league during the regular season with a Fenwick for percentage of 56.7 percent. So why is that? The Kings defend as a team, for one, but more than anything, they manage the puck as well as any team in the NHL. . . Kopitar has been incredible in the playoffs at both ends of the rink. Justin Williams has been, like always, a top playoff performer. Then you throw in the fact that the Kings have a very active defensive corps when it comes to generating offense and you have an attack that can be overwhelming for the Ducks."

PREDICTION: Kings in six
-Chris Peters

ESPN
About the Ducks: "[Nick Bonino] took a big jump in his career this season, putting up a career-high 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists) in 77 games. . . On a team where Getzlaf and Corey Perry understandably get the most attention up front, Bonino has developed into an impactful, two-way player and also seems comfortable with the playoff stage."
"[Andrew Cogliano] posted a career-high 21 goals this season, which was an important development as the Ducks found more secondary scoring behind their top line. If the Ducks are to beat the Kings, they need that secondary scoring to continue, and don't be surprised if Cogliano is at the heart of it."

About the Kings: "[Anze Kopitar] was all-world in the Kings' series comeback over the Sharks, shutting down Logan Couture while putting up a team-leading 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games. He's the Western Conference version of Patrice Bergeron. And in this series, he'll likely be tasked with trying to shut down Ryan Getzlaf."
"[Tyler Toffoli] looked great on a line with Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson and looks poised to become a dependable playoff performer."
"Normally you'd say scoring for a Kings team that ranked near the bottom in the regular season [is an issue]. But they filled the net to the tune of 3.71 goals per game against the Sharks, so their usual issue doesn't appear to be one right now."

PREDICTION: "(1) the Kings were a much better puck possession team than the Ducks, and those analytics/advance stats certainly favor an LA series win, and (2) Just like I picked the Kings to beat the Sharks because of the Jonathan Quick factor, same holds true here." Kings in six
-Pierre Lebrun

Sports Illustrated
About the Ducks: "Defensemen Cam Fowler and the criminally underappreciated Ben Lovejoy did a terrific job muting the impact of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Their assignment in this round, shutting down Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, won't be any easier. Given their lack of depth on Anaheim's back end, this pair can't falter. . . As a group, the Ducks need to get more pucks to the net. They averaged just 27.8 in the first round against a lower-tier Dallas defense. They're facing a much tougher challenge in the Kings and their league-leading defense. If they want to dent Jonathan Quick, quantity will be key."

About the Kings: "Anyone who saw him shut down the Sharks knows that Quick is in the zone right now. Loose and confident, he can beat the Ducks by himself. . . the key to this round might be finding additional opportunities for Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. The youngsters flustered the Sharks with their speed, creating several chances off the rush. If they see time against depth D like Mark Fistric and Bryan Allen, they'll be a handful. Anze Kopitar was instrumental in the Kings' comeback win over the Sharks, shutting down Logan Couture while putting up a team-leading 10 points (four goals, six assists). Getzlaf will pose a heavier challenge for him this round, but he's every bit as good as the Hart finalist."

PREDICTION: "The advantages the Kings have in goal and on the blue line are too pronounced for this to drag on long." Kings in five
-Allan Muir

The Guardian
About the Ducks: "Anaheim is a dangerous team. They have plenty of ways to score and are big, tough, and fast. All of which was showcased during their impressive, three-goal (two-goal?) comeback in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars. . . The Kings will also need to find a way to shut down the Ducks' top goal scorers, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin, and Nick Bonino, who combined for 15 points against the Stars. And once they've figured that out, they'll need to worry about the rest of the (deep) team."

About the Kings: "LA will have a lot to counter with. All the usual suspects (Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Justin WIlliams) stepped up in round one for the Kings, after dropping three games straight to the Sharks. . . And Jonathan Quick rebounded, too, and was brilliant in backstopping his team to the series win. After lugging an .848 save percentage through the first three games, Quick improved to .965 in the last four. Impressive, but also probably a credit to the guys in front of him. "Their defence just swallowed us up," Sharks captain Joe Thornton told the media after his team's Game 7 loss."

PREDICTION: "The Kings went 1-3-1 against the Ducks this year, but the playoffs are their thing." Kings in seven
-Colin Horgan

The outsider's perspective looks rather grim, my friends. But if the Stanley Cup playoffs were this easy to predict, they'd be called the NBA playoffs instead.

Go Ducks!

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