Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks: Biggest Takeaways from 2nd-Round Series
The Kings struck quickly with Justin Williams tallying on the power play just 4:30 into the game. By the end of the first period, Los Angeles had a 3-0 lead. The team with the league's stingiest defense during the regular season then coasted to a four-goal victory.
Amazingly, the Kings won only one game at home during this series while winning three times in Anaheim.
With the victory, the Kings now meet the Chicago Blackhawks to determine who advances to the Stanley Cup Final.
Here is a look at the biggest takeaways from this series. Feel free to comment on any of the issues discussed here or to add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
John Gibson Has a Great Future, but Jonathan Quick Is Already There
John Gibson played well for most of this series and gave his team a real spark. But, when the pressure was on in Game 7, it was veteran Jonathan Quick of the Kings who came through and delivered.
Gibson recorded a shutout in Game 4 and made 39 saves to win Game 5. In the deciding game, however, the 20-year-old Pittsburgh native wasn't to blame for giving up four goals on the 18 shots he faced before he was pulled for Jonas Hiller.
Defensive breakdowns were the bigger cause of the goals Gibson allowed, but Gibson didn't bail out his teammates when they made mistakes; Quick did.
The key moment came at 14:08 of the first period. Los Angeles had a 2-0 lead and was carrying the play when Drew Doughty slashed Corey Perry on a breakaway. Perry was awarded a penalty shot.
A goal there would have changed the momentum of the game and reawakened the crowd in Anaheim. But when the moment of truth arrived, Quick acted decisively and poke-checked the puck off of Perry's stick.
The Kings scored again 1:04 later and took a commanding 3-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission.
John Gibson is a great young goalie with the potential to become a star, but Jonathan Quick is a star, a great player at the top of his game—and he played his best when the game and the season were on the line.
Playoff Experience Matters
One of the advantages the Kings had in Game 7 was playoff experience. Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and the key players on that team remain the core of the team today.
This year, the Kings have already overcome a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Kings are now 6-0 in elimination games this season.
The Ducks have a number of players with playoff experience, but they are no match for the Kings in that department.
When Game 7 got under way, the Kings were ready while the Ducks came out a little flat. The Anaheim defense broke down several times in the first period and the experienced Kings took full advantage.
After 20 minutes, the Kings led 3-0 and the game was all but out of reach.
In a series with two very evenly matched teams, the Kings experienced made a difference in the deciding game.
Scoring First Was a Big Advantage
Scoring first proved to be a big advantage in this series. In fact, the team that scored first won all seven games.
When you consider that the first six games were either decided by one goal (four times) or two goals (twice) and that nearly every game was fairly low-scoring, getting the first goal was a key to victory.
The Kings were the best defensive team in the NHL during the regular season. Taking an early lead was a big factor, giving the Ducks a difficult road to get back into the game.
The Ducks were the league's top scoring team during the regular season, but the old adage proved true: Good defense usually beats good offense.
In the end, the difference was just one game, but the Kings proved to be the better team.
The Ducks Relied Heavily on the Power Play
The power play ended up being a big deal for the Anaheim Ducks in this series. When the Ducks were clicking with the man advantage, they usually won. When they struggled to score on the power play, they lost.
In the three games the Ducks won, they were 4-of-8 with the extra attacker. In Anaheim's four losses, they were just 1-of-16.
Against a tough defensive team like the Kings, scoring on the power play became more critical. It gave the Ducks a little more room to maneuver and meant that there should always be one player open to pass to and to set up quality scoring chances.
Having an extra player on the ice also made it easier for the Ducks to get a body in front of the crease to make things more difficult for Jonathan Quick.
In Games 6 and 7, the Ducks were 0-of-8 on the power play. The final score in Game 6 was 2-1. One power-play goal would have sent the game to overtime.
The power play was a key for the Ducks, but in the final two games of the series, the Kings were able to shut it down. That was a big reason they won the series.
So Long Teemu
When the Ducks were eliminated, Game 7 became the last NHL game for future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne.
"The Finnish Flash" spent more than two decades in the NHL after breaking in with the original Winnipeg Jets franchise back in 1992-93. Selanne set a new rookie record by scoring 76 goals and totaling 132 points in his first NHL season.
In 1,451 career games, Selanne scored 684 goals and 1,457 points.
He played in 10 NHL All-Star Games, represented his country in six different Olympic Games and won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.
Selanne has won the Calder Trophy, the Rocket Richard Trophy and the Masterton Trophy.
Most importantly, Selanne always carried himself with class both on and off the ice throughout his career.
Selanne was clearly slowing down this season, but he was still effective at times in this series. He scored two goals and added one assist despite seeing limited minutes on the ice at the age of 43.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau summed up the thoughts of many players and fans when he was asked about Selanne:
His next stop will be the Hockey Hall of Fame.