The stars have all aligned for this very series....It is all so perfect that the two teams finally meet on the year the Ducks celebrate their 20th Anniversary as a franchise. The two California teams did the unthinkable and played in an outdoors series at Dodgers Stadium. But even more poetic is that this is Teemu Selanne's swan song, as he has chosen to finally hang up his skates and his Number 8 jersey. I could not have written a better build-up for the Ducks-Kings playoff series.
(On another twist of fate, our lovely AHL team, the Norfolk Admirals, just defeated the Kings' AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs 3-1 in their first round Calder Cup playoff series. Talk about destiny.)
What we learned from the season series against the LA Kings: The Anaheim Ducks went 4-0-1 against
their arch nemesis and rival from hell the Los Angeles Kings, including stealing the highly-tooted Outdoors Stadium Series game held at Dodgers Stadium.
The Ducks barely managed to avoid the dreaded Kings in Round 1. But thanks to the
unexpected choking performance of the San Jose Sharks, the Ducks have no choice but to kick royal ass face-off against their freeway rivals.
For a thorough detailed recap and brief analysis of all five games, check out AC Eric's Season Series Recap.
The Anaheim Ducks site also posted some notes on the all-time series between the Ducks and the Kings here.
Game 1 (Dec. 3, 2013) @ Honda Center: Ducks-2, Kings-3 SO
Game 2 (Jan. 23, 2014) @ Honda Center: Ducks-2, Kings-1
Game 3 Stadium Series (Jan. 25, 2014) @ Dodgers Stadium: Ducks-3, Kings-0
Game 4 (March 15, 2014) @ Staples Center: Ducks-2, Kings-1
Game 5 (April 12, 2014) @ Staples Center: Ducks-4, Kings-3 SO
Check out Eric's Know Thy Enemy: Kings 2014 Playoff Path post to see how the hell they got to Round 2 after trailing 0-3 in the Round Series against the Sharks.
What needs to change for this game: The 4-0-1 regular season record against the Kings does not properly portray the way in which the games were played. In fact, if we are being perfectly honest here, the Ducks really managed to steal the wins with the stellar goaltending of both Jonas Hiller and Frederik Andersen. Upon a closer look on the season series, the Ducks were extremely lucky to have squeezed in a couple goals past the renown shutdown defense of the Kings. Here are some of AC's previews regarding the LA Kings:
So despite the 4-0-1 regular season record against their crosstown rivals, the Ducks really have their work cut out for them. A couple things to highlight that has managed to give the Ducks the success over the Kings....
The Ducks need to tighten up their defense. The Kings do not have the most dynamic or speedy forecheck, but they come at you in waves. The Ducks did not do a spectacular job in taking away the middle of the ice during the regular season--and as a result, the game mostly consisted of the Kings outpossessing the scrambling Ducks. In addition, the Ducks defense will really have to clear the area in front of the goal. The Kings are big and known to make life a living hell for the goaltender by shooting and crashing for the loose rebound. They will get in front of that net, so the Ducks need to really be physical and aggressive in clearing that part of the ice. But one of the biggest factors that attributed to this season's success against LA was the amount of blocked shots. The Ducks have done a marvelous job this season getting in the shooting lanes and preventing shots from reaching whoever is in net. They have to continue that trend.
Yes, as always, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are going to have to play their best offense one of the league's best defenses. But more than that, it will come down to the depth players. San Jose initially had success in their first three games because of the amount of different players that were able to score up and down the line. The Kings are going to focus on shutting down the Twins, but this opens up opportunities for secondary players like Nick Bonino, Mathieu Perrault, Matt Beleskey, and Andrew Cogliano to make their mark on the scoreboard. This series is all about which team will show a greater dominance--the Ducks' offense v. the Kings' defense.
If you thought the series against the Dallas Stars was physical, just wait until this one gets started. Bruce Boudreau opted for a larger and more physical line-up in this season's match-ups against the LA team. And it worked. But the Ducks won't have Tim Jackman or Stephane Robidas this time around. The Ducks will look to the physicality of Beleskey, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Daniel Winnik to win the battles along the boards and behind the net. While physicality is going to be big element of this game, the Ducks need to be more responsible and disciplined than in the series against the Stars. Like the Ducks, LA has recently seen a greater PP conversion rate in the post-season. There is no room for taking needless penalties against a hot team like the Kings. Yes, things will undoubtedly get chippy between these two teams. And hatred will finally solidify this postseason. But team discipline is going to give an edge.
The one thing the Ducks should NOT change is the goaltending. Hiller or Andersen--both have been absolutely fabulous in the regular season series. It's good to know that both goaltenders can go into the series having the confidence of success against LA.
Lastly, there's no ice like home ice. The Ducks have been extremely successful on protecting the house--and they will have to come up big this series to continue that record. The Kings are also well known to be dominant at the Staples Center. All this being said, we may very well see this series go to a Game 7--and the biggest advantage goes to the home ice team. So paint it orange Duck fans. Make sure to put the Honda Center on the map.
The Ducks have a long and difficult road in front of them. Unsurprisingly, the odds are stacked up against the Anaheim club. But screw odds, because anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs (see Round 1 Game 6 in Dallas). The most important thing we do know is that the Ducks are entirely capable of beating the Kings. We can sit here and spit out fancy stats all day, but at the end of the day, its about getting your sh** together, and playing head-to-head. The Ducks have a lot to prove in this series....
This is going to be a hell of a Round 2.
Rickard Rakell has been reassigned to Norfolk (GO ADS!)
Matthieu Perrault has been skating and participated in yesterday's morning practice. He is slated to play in Game 1.
Mathieu Perreault (lower body) said he's good for Game 1: "I felt good yesterday and I felt even better today. All set and ready to go."— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) May 2, 2014
Matt Beleskey skating on the top line at Ducks practice. Hampus Lindholm and Mathieu Perreault skating as well.— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) May 1, 2014
Hampus Lindholm, who was scratched due to suffering from a stiff neck after Game 4 against Dallas, was back on the ice as well.
In addition, it looks like Long Beach native Emerson Etem will draw back into the line-up.
As @curtiszupke pointed out earlier, BB threw out there that Emerson Etem would play in Game 1. Don't know who's place he'd take if so.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) May 2, 2014
But the biggest question in all our minds still remains a mystery to all with the exception of the coaching staff and the Ducks goaltenders--Who will start in net for the Ducks?
BB said he's clearly identified who his Game 1 goalie is for #NHLDucks. Just not doing so for us media peoples.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) May 2, 2014
Stay tuned for roster changes and updates!
Fearless prediction: Just Beat LA. That is all.