First round series breakdown: Canucks (1) vs. Kings (8)
Even if Daniel Sedin isn't 100 percent, the Canucks still have plenty of firepower
The Kings will need spotty playoff performer Jeff Carter (ankle injury) to score
Entertaining battle to watch: Canucks power play vs. the Kings' penalty killers
Season series: Canucks win, 2-1-1
Key injuries: Vancouver -- LW Daniel Sedin (concussion, day to day) Los Angeles -- LW Simon Gagne (concussion, indefinite), C Jeff Carter (ankle, expected to play), C Brad Richardson (appendectomy, indefinite)
Snapshot: Of the 16 teams in the playoffs, the Kings are the only one that failed to score 200 goals. The Canucks were the top-scoring team in the West, with 249, and that included the last nine games without Daniel Sedin. This is a lop-sided series, right? Not if Jonathan Quick is on his game. Quick had a league-leading 10 shutouts, with the second-best goals-against average (1.95) and fifth-best saves percentage (.929).
Of course, the Canucks have no slouches in net with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider. Looks like Luongo will be the starter until further notice, which many Canucks fans and pundits worry is the wrong call. But Luongo is the veteran guy on a Presidents' Trophy team, so it should be his job to lose.
L.A.'s scoring woes baffled people all season, especially because the Kings have such really talented forwards as Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and talented two-way D-man Drew Doughty. Jeff Carter adds another big stick, and it looks like he'll be ready to go for the series after missing the last couple weeks with a deep bone bruise on an ankle.
Will Daniel Sedin be ready to return from his concussion? The signs seem positive, as he's been skating again. Even without him, brother Henrik and Co. bring a lot of offensive skill to the rink.
It should be a good battle between the special teams in the series, as Vancouver had the fourth-best power play in the league (19.8 percent) while the Kings had the fourth-best PK overall (87).
Spotlight's on: Ryan Kesler. Late hip/groin problems robbed him of what was shaping up to be a Conn Smythe-worthy performance last spring. While he had what would have been a good 2011-12 season for almost any player (22 goals, 49 points in 77 games, +11), his numbers were a steep drop from the 41 goals and 73 points of his previous campaign. He failed to score in his final 12 contests of the regular season, so there is plenty of concern about his game as this postseason starts.
X-Factor for the Kings: Jeff Carter. The big centerman, playing for his third team in the last 12 months, told reporters it would be "no problem" healing up in time for the playoffs after an ankle bone bruise. With all their problems scoring goals this season, the Kings need Carter to be right about that prognosis and put the puck in the net. He played well much of the time for the Kings before the injury, but he's been a spotty playoff performer -- with only 21 points (13 goals) in 47 career games.
X-Factor for the Canucks: Max Lapierre. The big, highly annoying-to-play-against center did well in place of Daniel Sedin, finishing the season with a five-game point streak. He's given Vancouver strong physical play that occasionally crosses the line and no doubt he will be involved in a few facewashes in this series.
The Pick: Canucks in six
|Michael Farber's players to watch in this series|