As we pointed out during our second round series preview, the Anaheim Ducks pretty much dominated the Los Angeles Kings during the regular season–winning the season series 4-0-1. However, we still believed that the series would go to six or seven games, and almost every game would be close, from start-to-finish, with the Kings winning in six games. Well, the Kings apparently had different plans, because they refused to lose in Game 1, with Marian Gaborik playing the role of hero twice (including in overtime), and they grinded out a victory in Game 2 as well, by hunkering down on defense, and limiting odd-man rushes, rebound opportunities, and traffic in front of Jonathan Quick. Of course, Quick played his part, turning away 36 shots. With the Kings having won Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim, they return home for Game 3 looking for the dagger by going up 3-0 against the Ducks.
After the Kings overcame a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks in the first round, they are taking a game-by-game approach to this series and certainly know that the Ducks have the will and firepower to make a similar comeback in this series. In other words, they’re not taking anything for granted. They managed to win Game 2 with Jeff Schultz replacing Robyn Regehr–who was injured in Game 1–and he acquitted himself well in about 20 minutes of total ice time. But, with Regehr and Willie Mitchell still out indefinitely, the Kings are relying heavily on Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Jake Muzzin, and Alec Martinez–and they’re bound to get worn down at some point.
The Kings are definitely aware of the task at hand. “A 2-0 lead is great, but it’s not four. We know that better than anybody,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said. “They’ve outchanced us. They’ve beaten us in a lot of areas we need to be better at.” As Stoll remarked, the Ducks have beaten the Kings in a number of areas, and the Kings were fortunate to escape Game 1 with a win, as the Ducks hit the post numerous times and very easily could have been up by two or three goals in the third period.
The best bet for the Kings will be to continue staying focused on one game at a time (as much of a cliche as that is), and let Quick be the wizard he is in net by continuing to limit odd-man rushes and traffic in front of him. It seemed that most of the Ducks’ shots in Game 2 came from the outside, and Quick was sharp the entire game. If the Kings continue their physical play, limit turnovers in the neutral zone, and force the Ducks to shoot from the outside, this series could end up being over a lot quicker than we all expected.