Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Am I Psychic?

When I previewed the series, I pointed out three keys: Special Teams, Matchups and Injuries.

And through the first three games ; special teams and matchups have absolutely dominated the series.
If the Kings can stay out of the box; it'll greatly improve their chances of pulling the upset.
OK.  So the penalty calls have actually been even whether Canucks fans want to admit it or not.  The Canucks have actually been on the PK twelve times while the Kings have been shorthanded eleven times.  The Canucks can't kill a penalty to save their lives right now.  The Kings are 7-for-12 (58.3%) on the man-advantage.
Mitchell and Johnson are defensive-minded agitators that win games.  Mitchell, Vancouver's lone shutdown defenseman will be missed against the Kings depth up-front.  Johnson may be Vancouver's most valuable penalty-killers.
The injuries to forward Ryan Johnson and defenseman Willie Mitchell have affected the penalty kill more than most anticipated.  Both players are extremely valuable pieces to Vancouver's PK and defense because of their willingness to sacrifice their bodies to make a play.  In the 2009 NHL playoffs, Johnson led the Canucks with 19 blocked shots in 10 games; Mitchell was 3rd with 15 blocked shots.

If you think I'm overplaying this blocked shots thing a bit much.  Here's one more stat for you.  In Game Three, Jonathan Quick made 25 saves; Kings skaters blocked an additional 28 shot attempts.
Coach Alain Vigneault will ride his top-four hard.  Sami Salo, Alex Edler, Christian Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa all see over 20 minutes of ice-time.
Each Canucks defenseman has seen their ice-time increase nearly five minutes.  The Canucks depleted blueline has been forced to make adjustments all series.  Andrew Alberts, their sixth defenseman managed to rack up 23 PIM's in just over eight minutes of ice time through the first two games of the series.  He wasn't in the lineup for Game Three.

The Kings big-bodies have matched up well with the Canucks.  The size of Handzus, Modin, Kopitar and Simmonds have given the Canucks defense trouble in the series thus far.  The Kings have done a decent job of neutralizing Vancouver's speed and Jonathan Quick has made the saves he's needed to make to give his team a chance to win.

I think the Kings take Game Four and still see them winning in six games.

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