2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks Game 2: Keys for Each Team

Brad KurtzbergContributor IMay 5, 2014

Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks Game 2: Keys for Each Team

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    Game 2 between the Kings and Ducks should be a close one.
    Game 2 between the Kings and Ducks should be a close one.Associated Press

    "The Freeway Faceoff" between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks was supposed to be a close series between two evenly matched teams. Game 1 did a lot to reinforce that theory.

    The Kings escaped Anaheim with a 3-2 overtime victory despite being outplayed for long stretches of the game.

    Marian Gaborik tied the game with just seven seconds left in regulation time and then won the game in overtime. Anze Kopitar had three assists for the Kings.

    The Ducks got good goaltending from veteran Jonas Hiller in defeat. Ryan Getzlaf also had two assists for Anaheim.

    The Ducks now trail the series 1-0 and look to even things up by winning Game 2, which starts Monday night at 10 p.m. ET in Anaheim.

    Here are the three biggest keys for each team to win Game 2. Feel free to comment on any of these or to add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

Kings Key No. 1: Continue to Be Physical

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    The Kings need to be physical to win.
    The Kings need to be physical to win.Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    Both teams have good size and play a physical style, but the Ducks have more skill players throughout their lineup, and a wide-open game favors Anaheim.

    That means the Kings have to make sure they play a physical style throughout the series.

    The Ducks did outhit the Kings in Game 1, but the two teams combined for 95 hits, and the physicality of the game worked in the Kings' favor.

    Matt Greene and Dustin Brown tied for the Kings' team lead with six hits each, while Anze Kopitar added five more.

    The hitting has to continue for the Kings to keep each game close, especially in Anaheim when the Ducks have the advantage of making the last change.

Ducks Key No. 1: Slow Down Anze Kopitar

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    The Ducks need to slow down Anze Kopitar.
    The Ducks need to slow down Anze Kopitar.Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    Anze Kopitar leads all players in the NHL with 13 playoff points. The Kings' top-line center has scored at least one point in all eight playoff games thus far this season.

    It will be tough to stop Kopitar the way he is playing right now, but the Ducks do need to slow him down a bit.

    It seemed like they were doing that in Game 1 when they limited Kopitar to just one shot on goal for the entire game, and that didn't come until the final minute of regulation time.

    But by the end of the game, Kopitar had assisted on all three Los Angeles goals and had a plus-two rating.

    The Kings feed off Kopitar's energy, his passes and his overall play. The Ducks need to find a player or players to shadow Kopitar and limit his effectiveness.

Kings Key No. 2: Stay Out of the Penalty Box

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    Being short-handed cancels out the Kings' strengths.
    Being short-handed cancels out the Kings' strengths.Elsa/Getty Images

    The Kings often win games by rolling four lines, playing a physical game and wearing down their opponents.

    That strategy is foiled when Los Angeles finds itself short-handed too often. The ice time for most players gets disrupted, and many key players are taken out of their rhythm.

    In Game 1, the Kings were short-handed four times and allowed six shots on goal while short-handed. If the Kings give the Ducks more than four power-play chances in a game, they are playing with fire.

    They are allowing Anaheim to get its best players extra ice time and giving them more space to operate. The Kings are also less likely to deliver punishing checks to players such as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry if they are short-handed.

    Anaheim has scored on 23.3 percent of its power-play chances in the playoffs. The Kings need to stay out of the penalty box to win Game 2 and to wear down the Ducks for the duration of the series.

Ducks Key No. 2: Get Their Power Play Started

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    The Ducks need to take advantage of power-play chances.
    The Ducks need to take advantage of power-play chances.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Anaheim's offense is deep and talented. It is tied for the league lead with seven power-play goals in the playoffs.

    By contrast, the Ducks were 0-of-4 on the power play in Game 1.

    When the Ducks are successful, it's not just their stars who produce on the power play. Mathieu Perreault, Matt Beleskey, Devante-Smith Pelly, Nick Bonino and Rickard Rakell have all scored at least once with the man advantage in the playoffs.

    The Ducks can put a lot more pressure on the Los Angeles defense and get it out of its regular defensive system if they can start scoring on the power play.

Kings Key No. 3: Don't Let Up

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    The Kings won Game 1 in overtime, but they can't let up.
    The Kings won Game 1 in overtime, but they can't let up.Associated Press

    Usually, the road team says its goal in a best-of-seven playoff series is to earn at least a split in the first two games. The Kings have already accomplished that by winning Game 1.

    Still, in a series between two evenly matched teams, the Kings cannot afford to let up and be satisfied with their early series lead.

    The Kings stole Game 1 despite being outplayed for long stretches of the contest. If they take a 2-0 series lead heading back to Los Angeles, they can put the Ducks in a spot where they would need to win four times in the next five games to win the series.

    They would also have all the momentum as they return back to the Staples Center for the next two games.

    The Kings had less rest than the Ducks did after winning an emotional and dramatic seven-game series against the San Jose Sharks. They still need to stay hungry and keep playing all out. They cannot afford a letdown now that they have the early lead in this series.

Ducks Key No. 3: Put Pressure on Jonathan Quick

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    The Ducks need to get bodies in front of Jonathan Quick.
    The Ducks need to get bodies in front of Jonathan Quick.Associated Press

    Jonathan Quick is one of best goalies in the NHL, and he gives the Kings an advantage in this series, according to most experts.

    One key for Anaheim in Game 2 and in the entire series is to get bodies in front of Quick to disrupt his vision and timing and to get him out of his comfort zone.

    Anaheim had nine forwards in the lineup for Game 1 who stand at least six feet tall. Getzlaf stands 6'4" while Perry and Patrick Maroon are 6'3".

    The Ducks need to use the size their forwards possess to their advantage. If Quick sees the puck, he's very likely to stop the puck.

    Anaheim needs more scoring chances in the slot on deflections and rebounds and needs to get Quick thinking about his own personal safety.

    The Ducks tried this in Game 1 with mixed results. They need to do it better in Game 2.

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