Today is April 13th, 2012. It’s Friday, yes Friday the 13th. For those that believe in luck, it’s either a really unlucky day, or a maybe it’s a lucky one. For the Los Angeles Kings, today means it’s the day for Game 2 against the mighty Vancouver Canucks.
On Wednesday, the Kings made a statement. What was that statement? They will not go gently into the night.
What does Wednesday night’s victory mean, today? It means nothing. There's no time for the Kings to sit around and think about how good they are, how they dominated, or anything else. It's time for the Kings to focus on taking it to the Canucks in Game 2.
Here are some keys to victory for the Los Angeles Kings tonight.
Anze Kopitar centers the top line of Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. He is big, fast and highly skilled. They will draw Vancouver’s shut down lines. The Canucks are at home and get the last line change enabling them to dictate matchups. Kopitar and the top line are good enough to score against anyone. They need to match physicality thrown their way (Brown) and control the play by keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Kopitar and Williams are masters of puck possession and Brown will go to the front of the net for any rebounds Luongo gives up.
The second line of Richards, Carter and King need to continue their play from Game 1. Richards showed why in big games there’s no one better. A lot of people questioned the trade that brought Richards to the Kings due to his lack of production in the regular season. After Game 1, most of his would be critics stopped criticizing.
Carter has proven himself as one of the better snipers in the NHL. King brings a big body and skill to match. There is a chance Penner plays on this line as he did on the game winning goal Wednesday night. No one will complain if the results are the same.
Drew Doughty held out for a big contract over the summer. He was rewarded with a big pay-day. He had an okay season. It’s time for him to have a fantastic playoffs. He has a history of scoring timely goals, especially in the playoffs. Tonight would be a good night to get a couple from the blue line from No. 8. If he doesn’t score goals, his puck moving ability is sure to help set up his teammates.
The fourth Line will be without Kyle Clifford because a hit from Bitz. It hasn’t been determined who will replace No. 13. The logical choice is Westgarth. If so, the physical element will be maintained on the fourth line. If not, Westgarth then Loktionov. Either will be a good choice, and Sutter will know which is the correct decision to make. Colin Fraser won a cup with the Blackhawks two seasons ago. He has been an inspirational leader on the ice. Rarely is his game off. He should be able to spark and inspire tonight. The addition of some scoring wouldn’t hurt either, and they have the ability to do just that.
Before the series started, everyone in Los Angeles and the NHL knew that the best chance for the Kings to beat the Canucks was in Jonathan Quick's hands. Nothing has changed. Quick will need to be Quick. When he’s on (which is most of the time) he can win a game all by himself. He is athletic, he is poised, he is smart, and he is Quick(pun intended). With him backstopping the Kings, a victory in Game 2 is very possible.
The Vancouver fans are a wild card. If the Kings can score on Luongo early, the boo birds might come out. If the booing starts and the calls for Schneider follow, look out. Luongo is the foundation the team is built on. As good as Schneider was in the regular season, it will throw doubt into the locker room. Doubt in a locker room is like a virus. A virus can ruin a cup run.