Apr 12, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) attempts a shot for a goal defended by Anaheim Ducks left wing Matt Beleskey (39) during the third period at Staples Center. The Anaheim Ducks won in a shootout with a final score of 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Western Conference Series Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks

One of the biggest new-market rivalries in the entire NHL, the Freeway Face-Off, will take center stage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Anaheim Ducks clash with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Ducks dominated the season series between the two teams, winning the final four games after dropping the season debut in a shootout, finishing with a 4-0-1 record.

Anaheim has had the longer break of the two, finishing off the Dallas Stars in six games, with an incredible comeback in Game Six. The Kings’ first-round series was one to remember, as they became the fourth team to pull the “reverse sweep” in NHL history, winning the past four games against the San Jose Sharks after falling to 0-3.

Ryan Getzlaf and Anze Kopitar will be each club’s respective top gun offensively, with 7 and 10 points heading into the series. Dustin Brown’s move down to the third line after Marian Gaborik joined the team via trade could pay huge dividends in what is sure to be a punishing series, and the Kings’ captain will often be matched up against his counterpart on the Ducks.

Defensively, Drew Doughty has been arguably the best blue-liner in the entire Playoffs thus far, and was invaluable to the Kings’ comeback against the Sharks. The Ducks will need to clog up the neutral zone to try to stifle Doughty’s puck movement, for which he is most explosive.

The Ducks lack a big-name defenseman, but they make up for it with a great team game in their own zone. The Ducks’ bottom-four defense will need to find some offense in this series to match that of the Kings. Only Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler had more than one point in their previous series, compared to the Kings’ five.

Teemu Selanne will be an interesting face to watch for in this second-round series, after the veteran winger’s ice time was limited in the first round. Selanne was a healthy scratch in Game Four of the Stars series, but immediately bounced back in Game Six with his best performance of the series, notching two assists.

The Kings are noted as the underdog in the series, up against the top-ranked team in the entire Western Conference, but the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions easily take the edge in the playoff experience category, and are even somewhat of a ‘Cinderella’ story, after their historic comeback in the first round.

Prediction Sure To Go Wrong:

I think the Kings’ playoff experience is too much to handle, and like the Ducks did in the first round last season, I believe they will cave in to the older, smarter team. The series will go the distance, but Los Angeles wins it’s second consecutive Game Seven on the road, beating the Ducks out at the Honda Center, with Slava Voynov scoring the series-winning goal.

 

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Playoffs

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