Monday, April 12, 2010

2-5, Kings Playoff Preview

I don't really know the historical significance of giving up 47 runs in 7 games, but I'm sure it approaches, if not sets, an ignominious record. On this pace, the Angels will allow 1087 runs this season, sure to be another near-record.

It's unlikely, of course, but I'm more frustrated with the inability of the offense to produce runs. 24 runs over 7 games is poor, but it's the way that the Angels find themselves unable to score runs through their trademark small ball that's particularly disconcerting. I'm glad to see them on the road, something I think will help Brandon Wood, but wish it weren't against the Yankees.

#6 Los Angeles Kings vs. #3 Vancouver Canucks

I didn't really want to see the Kings play Vancouver, but it's important to remember that Phoenix has Vezina-candidate Ilya Bryzgalov and perennial King-killer Shane Doan, so perhaps the Vancouver matchup is a better option. I think I would have preferred San Jose to any other team in the top half of the standings, but it's better that the Kings didn't make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 as an 8 seed.

This series has a lot of potential. Both teams are relying on shaky Olympic goalies, which promises to generate a good deal of groaning from the west coast of North America. Obviously, the goaltending edge belongs to the Canucks with Roberto Luongo, but he's begun to show some inconsistency in his game. He allowed 8 goals to the Kings in the teams' most recent meeting, including a couple which I believe I would have stopped. He's been remarkably average this month.

Jon Quick, on the other hand, has been suffering from a mixture of poor play and bad luck. In every game he's played well over the last month, he's been victimized by defensive breakdowns or an unfortunate deflection of the puck off a defenseman's skates. In the game's he's played poorly, the Kings haven't scored. It's a tough spot, but nothing he's doing has changed since the early season, when he was much more successful. Quick is not, nor has he ever been, a positionally sound goalie. He relies on reaction and athleticism, which leads to amazing saves and soft goals. I don't believe either strategy to be better, but most fans view a positionally sound goalie as more consistent, when in reality, both types of goaltender output similar results. If Quick sees the puck, he makes the stop. He gets into trouble on longer shots where the puck has enough time to dip or rise, and in goalmouth scrums where he has to move laterally while already on his chest.

The series, though, will be decided by scoring. If Raitis Ivanans plays, if Simmonds doesn't score, and if Doughty can't hit the net on his point shots, the Kings will lose. I believe that Kopitar can, at least, shut down Vancouver's top scorers, while perhaps being shut down himself. That puts the responsibility for goals on Stoll, on Simmonds, and on Handzus, and their production is the difference between Kings in 6 and Vancouver in 5.

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