Even with losses in four of their last five games the Los Angeles Kings held on and earned the 6th position in the NHL playoffs, finishing two points on top of the Minnesota Wild. The Kings 6th place finish has set up one of the most eagerly anticipated first round playoff matchups, a rematch of last year’s second round series between the Kings and the San Jose Sharks. Last season the Kings defeated the Sharks in seven spirited games, a series were the home team won each matchup. By virtue of an outstanding regular season the Sharks will have home ice advantage.Season Series: The Kings held the advantage in the season series between the two teams, three games to two. The Kings won one of the three games played in San Jose, a 1-0 shutout by Jonathan Quick on January 27th. The Sharks won the last game between the two teams, a 2-1 win on April 3. Other than a 4-1 Kings victory on December 19th all of the games were decided by a goal, indicative of just how closely matched the two teams are. The tight games in the season series mirror last year’s playoff matchup in which all seven games of the series were decided by just a lone goal.
San Jose Sharks- who to watch: The Sharks feature a deep roster of veterans that has been together through several playoff appearances. The aging combination of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still strong performers along with young stars such as Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns. Pavelski led the Sharks in scoring this season with 41 goals, while Marleau contributed 33. Right Wing Brent Burns, a former defenseman, and Couture give the Sharks tremendous size and speed up front with both scoring over 20 goals this season.Why the Kings will win: The Sharks had a better regular season, but the NHL playoffs are a whole new season and the Los Angeles Kings are built for the playoffs. Stanley Cups are won with good goaltending and the Kings have an advantage in net with Jonathan Quick. Quick has proven time and time again that he performs best in pressure situations and should have the advantage over Antii Niemi. Niemi had a strong overall regular season but has struggled in the month of April. The Sharks will need their veteran goaltender to be in strong form. Offensively the Kings have benefited from the acquisition of Marian Gaborik, a trade deadline pickup from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Garborik has scored 15 points in 18 games as a member of the Kings, giving their offense an additional component. The key for Los Angeles is earning a victory in San Jose to wrest home ice advantage away from the Sharks.
Prediction: Kings in six.
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BY: Chris M.
Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr have made their peace, the embarrassing lockout is over and hockey is finally back. The NHL will now squeeze a forty-eight games season and a complete playoffs into the next six months. The Kings, who barely squeaked into the postseason and then went on a dominant run to win their first Stanley Cup are uniquely positioned for a quick start. This truncated season will reward teams that can start quickly. They’ll be no preseason games so teams that return the core of their roster from the previous year should be strongly positioned to get out of the gates quickly.
Of course repeating as Stanley Cup Champion is harder than winning it in the first place, at least in the modern and more parity-filled NHL. The days of the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins winning multiple titles in a row are long gone, with the Detroit Red Wings being the last to repeat nearly fifteen years ago. The Kings will also have the clichéd target on their back as they go from plucky eighth seed getting hot at the right time to defending champion. Still the entire core returns from last season save the retirement of role player Ethan Moreau, so the Kings should be primed for a quick start.
Here’s a rundown of the roster.
Goaltending: In Jonathon Quick the Kings have one of the youngest and most talented netminders in the NHL. The team smartly rewarded last year’s Conn Smythe winner with a ten-year $58 million dollar contract. Quick gives the club great stability and a player who should be a perennial Vezina Trophy candidate. For insurance they have the very talented former first round draft pick Jonathan Bernier to back up Quick. If the team chooses to keep the talented Bernier they have an outstanding backup with a career 2.50 Goals Against. If they choose to trade Bernier they have a tremendous chip to bring instant help in others areas or talented prospects. It’s an excellent position to be in. Considering the quick start to the season and the potential for back to backs due to the shortened schedule the Kings may be smart to hold onto Bernier as an option at the trade deadline.
Defense: Although seen as risky at the time the Jack Johnson trade turned out to be the right move and didn’t have an adverse effect on the club’s defensive core. Drew Doughty started slow following his contract dispute but still played a heavy volume of minutes and had a strong regular season. Doughty’s commanding playoff performance cemented his position as one of the top defensemen in the league and a future perennial Norris Trophy candidate. Rob Scuderi is a capable veteran and a sold partner for Doughty. In Willie Mitchell the Kings have a steady veteran along the lines of Scuderi. Mitchell teamed up well with Slava Voynov last year and they should again be a consistent second unit behind Doughty/Scuderi. With everyone back there’s no reason Quick and the defensive corps shouldn’t continue to lead a club near the top of the NHL in goals against.
Forwards: Make no mistake the defense and goaltending carried the Kings to the 8th playoff spot with the offense kicking in during the playoffs. After a fairly pedestrian regular season the line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams exploded in the postseason with Williams scoring twenty points in twenty games. Due to injury the club will be without Kopitar for three to four weeks to start the season. The more high profile but less productive line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner could be in for a big season. Richards had an up and down regular season but has been a consistent 75 to 80 point scorer during his career. He flourished in tandem with Carter in the playoffs and there’s no reason that can’t continue. For all his talent and sheer size and athleticism Dustin Penner has been an enigma during the regular season. If his strong playoff performance can carry on into the regular season the Richards line has the ability to be elite. The third line Jarrett Stoll, Trevor Lewis and Simon Gagne is a nice mix of young talent and veteran leadership.
Prediction: Typically a championship team with every player back is the bonafide preseason favorite to repeat. So the big question: are the Kings a legitimate power that will continue their ascent or did they capture lightning in a bottle? A lot of things went right for the club in the postseason. Quick is an elite goaltender but it’s hard to imagine him repeating his utter dominance of last season. And can the Kopitar line continue to produce like they did in the playoffs? The rapid fire season will be a test of the Kings depth and resolve. They are equipped for the long haul and should be a contender for a top three spot in the west. Come playoff time, anything can happen.
Barry’s Ticket Service is an official Partner of the Los Angeles Kings and carries Kings Tickets for all Home and Away Games.
Los Angeles Kings 1, Vancouver Canucks 0
Sunday, April 15, 2012 10:30 PM
Los Angeles Staples Center
You can purchase Kings Vs Canucks Tickets for the April 18th match up at the Staples Center.
KINGS 1, CANUCKS 0: Dustin Brown scored 6 1/2 minutes into the third period and Jonathan Quick made 41 saves as Los Angeles pushed the Presidents’ Trophy winners to the brink of elimination in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar each notched an assist for the Kings, who own a 3-0 series lead for the first time in franchise history. They try to complete the sweep at home on Wednesday.
Brown, who drew the ire of the Canucks for a hit on Henrik Sedin early in the second period that temporarily knocked the Vancouver captain out of the game, gave Quick all the offensive support he needed with his fourth goal of the series.
Williams’ shot from the top of the right faceoff circle was stopped by Cory Schneider. But the rebound went right to Brown, and the LA Kings‘ captain buried it from the bottom of the left circle for a 1-0 advantage.
Quick turned aside 11 shots in the first period, 14 in the second and 16 in the third for his second career postseason shutout. The 26-year-old led the NHL with 10 regular-season shutouts.
Schneider made 19 saves for the Canucks, who had just four power-play opportunities while giving the Kings eight chances.
GAME NOTEBOOK: All-Star defenseman Alex Edler essentially ended Vancouver’s comeback chances when he fired the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty with 97 seconds remaining in the third period. … While registering 41 shots, the Canucks had another 23 attempts blocked. … Drew Doughty led the Kings in ice time for the third straight game, logging 25 minutes, 56 seconds. Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa played the exact same amount, while teammate Dan Hamhuis saw 28:19 of action. … Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and David Beckham of Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy were in attendance.
We stock Kings Tickets for all home games as well as all games on the road.
Preview: Edmonton at Los Angeles
When: 10:30 PM ET, Monday, April 2, 2012
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Tickets: You can still purchase Oilers Vs Kings Tickets ranging from $34.00 to $110.00.
THE STORY: After finishing a four-game road trip, the Los Angeles Kings can control their own destiny. By winning its final three games, Los Angeles will win the Pacific Division and earn the third seed in the Western Conference. The Kings will look to set the plan in motion on Monday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, RS West (Oilers), FS Prime Ticket (Kings)
ABOUT THE OILERS (32-38-9): Edmonton continues to collect points away from home. Teemu Hartikainen scored his first two goals of the season as the Oilers improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven road matches with a 2-1 victory over Anaheim on Sunday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notched an assist for his 51st point, tying him with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog for the rookie scoring lead. The top overall pick of the 2011 draft, Nugent-Hopkins also had an assist in Friday’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles. Devan Dubnyk, who has won four of his last five starts, turned aside 20 shots in a 2-1 win over the Kings on Jan. 15.
ABOUT THE KINGS (39-27-13): Brad Richardson is filling in admirably for Jeff Carter, who is nursing an ankle injury. Richardson tallied twice and captain Dustin Brown also scored in Los Angeles’ 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota on Saturday. Anze Kopitar, who has collected 21 points in his last 17 games, recorded a goal and an assist on Friday. All-Star Jonathan Quick sat out versus Minnesota, but turned aside 13 of 14 shots Friday to improve to 6-1-3 in his career versus Edmonton.
1. Although its record leaves a bit to be desired, Edmonton has given Los Angeles a tough go of it this season. The Oilers have won two of the three meetings.
2. The Kings won’t have to leave the Golden State in their final three games. After hosting Edmonton, Los Angeles will tangle with San Jose in a home-and-home series.
PREDICTION: Kings 2, Oilers 1 (OT)
Barry’s Tickets will have Kings Playoff Tickets for all home and away games.
Dwight King and Alec Martinez also tallied and Dustin Brown and Matt Greene contributed two assists apiece as Los Angeles won for only the second time in seven games.
Bernier had 10 saves in each of the first two periods en route to his fifth career shutout and second against Minnesota.
Williams triggered a three-goal first period when a shot by Slava Voynov deflected off his body and past Niklas Backstrom only 44 seconds into the game.
King doubled the lead by redirecting a centering pass from Kopitar nine minutes later, and Kopitar ended a nine-game goalless drought by tapping a shot into an open net with 1:22 left in the period.
Martinez supplied the only goal of the second period to give Los Angeles a commanding 4-0 lead.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The Kings, who entered with a league-low 130 goals, had been limited to one goal or fewer in eight of the previous 12 games. The four-goal outburst allowed them to surpass the Wild, who came in with 133 goals. … Bernier won for the first time since Jan. 9. It was only his second start since that victory. He also blanked the Wild in Minnesota on Feb. 1, 2011.
Next up for the LA Kings is on March 3rd against the Anaheim Ducks at the Staples Center. You can purchase Ducks Vs Kings Tickets now. We also stock Minnesota Wild Tickets for all their home and away games.