Category Archives: 2010 Playoffs

L.A. Kings come thisclose to stealing Game One vs. the Vancouver Canucks

Michal Handzus #26 of the Los Angeles Kings and Kevin Bieksa #3 look on as Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a goal line save during overtime in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at General Motors Place on April 15, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)Game 1: Canucks 3, Kings 2 (OT)

The Kings took the Canucks to the limit and back Thursday in Game One of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And even though they found themselves on the losing side of the game, the club didn’t seem that worried about it.

After all, the young Kings haven’t been in the league long enough to actually feel the mounting pressure of playing in the postseason. Personally, my expectations were to get a feel for the stones of this squad in this first game. I didn’t anticipate a win, especially playing at General Motors Place. But I was pleasantly surprised with the result.

In front of 18,000-plus crazed fans, the Kings took to the ice, then were subjected to one of the most stirring national anthems I have ever heard . For Canada. The singer charged with belting out “O Canada” actually stopped and let the crowd sing without missing a beat. It was impressive.

I give Canadians one thing: they really love being Canadian. It seeps into every pore of their being. And at first, I found it a little endearing. Then I was subjected to a Molson beer commercial during the first intermission, and I became slightly annoyed. I’m all for thumping your chest in mock patriotism, but being barked at by some gruff dude, telling me that Canada has “more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on Earth” is a bit much.

Back to Game One…  Some of the Kings looked loose, like Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds, while others looked like they were gripping their sticks a but too much, like Jack Johnson. That’s understandable, since it’s their first time around and everyone deals with anxiety differently. But the important thing is that once the game started, they were all busy and played focused and ready. And they needed to, since the Canucks brought their A-Game as well.

All the questions swirling around both these goaltenders quickly disappeared. Especially for Quick, who looked to have recaptured the mojo he lost during the Olympic break, when he sat on the bench for two weeks. Maybe it was the excitement of actually getting on the ice at GM Place after being banished to Guy-Behind-The-Guy-Behind-The Guy status during the Olympics.

Maybe he was playing coy the last two weeks of the season, when he failed to win his 40th game of the season in eight tries. That allowed people to start questioning his abilities, and lowering the bar of expectations. Regardless of his mindset before the game, Quick showed his head was in the game. He faced 17 shots in the first, turning them all away and looking solid as a rock.

A late interference call on Vancouver’s Andrew Alberts with nine seconds left in the first period allows the Kings a power play after the Zamboni races during intermission. And the Kings’ seventh-ranked power play drew first blood, when Jarett Stoll scored on an previously untested Roberto Luongo. The Stollercoaster of Love gets a fat rebound and buries it to give L.A. the lead.

But the Kings’ good fortunes are short-lived, when Jack Johnson flips the puck over the glass, and gets the gate for delaying the game. The penalty really isn’t Jack’s fault, since he was just attempting to clear the puck. But once you give the Canucks an opening like that, you know something bad is going to happen. After all, the Canucks are .1 percent ahead of the Kings on PP percentage for the season.

And it’s Mikael Samuelsson who ties the game, on a scramble in front of Jonathan Quick for Vancouver’s first goal. The Stick In A Box strikes again. as Daniel Sedin scores on a nifty move off a rush from a pass from his brother (and 2010’s Art Ross winner) Henrik. The Kings found themselves down a goal, and fans were curious to see how they respond.

The young team continues to grind and finally gets something going in the Canucks’ end. Andrew Alberts strikes again, this time dishing out a wicked boarding on Brad Richardson, who appeared dazed and bloody after the hit into the glass. Alberts gets a 10-minute game misconduct, as well as a five-minute major for the boarding.

So the Kings go on the power play, and Dustin Brown is able to hold the puck in on an attempted clearing pass, and skates it in deep, avoiding Canucks left and right. he finally passes it back to Alexander Frolov behind the net, who immediately passes to Fredrik Modin, who one-timed it past Luongo for the Kings’ second power play goal of the game. The setup was a thing of beauty, and gave Frolov his first-ever playoff point.

The game remains tied at two for the rest of the second and the third period, despite the Canucks feverish attack. The Kings are outshot 13-2 in the third period, as Vancouver threw everything but the kitchen sink at Quick, who remained focused. And for the sixth (!) game in a row, the Kings head to overtime.

As the game entered its’ fourth frame, Terry Murray was more selective about who he put out there with the Sedins. Any time either twin got a look at the puck, they were hit. It was a solid game plan, and taking it’s toll on the brothers.

In what proved to be the key play of overtime, Luongo made a miraculous save on Jack Johnson, sprawling backward. The puck had trickled past Bobby Lu and toward the open net. But Luongo looked like Neo from the Matrix, sprawling in an impossible twist to swat the puck from the goal line. The frustrating thing is the Kings weren’t there to grab the rebound, which would’ve likely been easily scored. In his acrobatic save, Lu’s stick knob (heh, knob) got caught on his pad strap, and he couldn’t free himself to get it out.

The frustrating thing was seeing veteran Michal Handzus prematurely celebrating the goal. Had the normally stoic Slovakian just had his stick on the ice, he could have easily tipped it in. That was L.A.’s last best chance, as Samuelsson scores his second of the game two minutes later to give the Canucks Game 1 of this best-of-seven series.

For the Kings to take it to the Canucks like they did, under hostile conditions on Vancouver’s home ice, and take them to overtime speaks volumes about the squad’s makeup. It will be interesting to see just where they go from here. Can they respond with the same intensity?

Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings chases down a loose puck while being chased by Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2010 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)• AP: Samuelsson scores in overtime for Canucks

“Quick made a ton of big saves and I didn’t have many but that one was just as important,” Luongo said of a play that needed video review. “It was definitely going in, but once I swiped it off the line I knew it hadn’t crossed.”

• LA Times: Kings lose playoff opener to Canucks in overtime

It was a disappointment to them but no shame that they were done in by the quick hands and great vision of NHL scoring champion Henrik Sedin, whose pass from behind the net found Mikael Samuelsson in the slot for a wrist shot that beat Jonathan Quick eight minutes and 52 seconds into overtime and gave the Canucks a 3-2 victory to launch their Western Conference playoff series.

• LA Kings: Canucks beat Kings 3-2 in overtime

A Kings team with eight playoff rookies on its game roster battled for almost 70 minutes and certainly didn’t look out of place. That can especially be said for goalie Jonathan Quick, who answered all doubts about his recent play with a strong 41-save effort.

• NHL.com: Samuelsson ‘s OT goal gives Canucks win over Kings

The save in that crucial situation epitomized the picture of calm that was the Canucks on this night. The Kings, who had a roster full of key players who were making their postseason debuts, certainly didn’t wilt under the pressure, but the Canucks were clearly the team that embraced it.

• ESPNLosAngeles’ Arash Markazi: Quick’s solid play good news for Kings

While Canucks captain and hometown hero Roberto Luongo got the win in goal, there was little doubt who was the best goaltender on this night, as Quick kept the Kings in the game time after time when it looked as if Vancouver was on the verge of opening things up. The Canucks outshot the Kings 44-27, with most of those shots coming in the first and third periods where the Kings were outshot 30-8.

• NHL.com’s Kings/Canucks blog: O’Donnell talks value of experience

“I don’t think any of them are going to stay up at night tossing and turning or reading their articles or getting on the Internet just reading too much. So I think in that way they’re going to be fine.”

• NHL.com: Jonathan Quick answers doubters

“He gave us a chance. He stood tall. He was phenomenal,” said left wing Ryan Smyth. “He fought traffic really well. He found a way to move with the puck. From a goaltender, that’s all you can ask for.”

They said it

“You’ve got to feel good about your game, to a point, and try to carry it over to the next game. At the end of the day, it’s not the result we wanted, so we’ll refocus and work hard to try to get that result next time.” – Jonathan Quick, on his first playoff game.

“We have some guys who are competitors. When they’re on the ice they’re pretty competitve. When they’re off the ice, they’re pretty laid back,. I think that’s goinng to help these guys, especially starting in Canada here not to get caught up in the whole buzz and feeling and energy and electricty of what’s going on.” – Sean O’Donnell, on the young Kings getting experience.

 “It’s everything I expected. We’ve got enough guys with experience. I think the only ones on defense who didn’t have playoff experience were myself and Drew, but we’ve got experience in other games that a lot of other people don’t have, so I think we’re handling this just fine. All you can take out of this is just to learn from it, move on and bounce back the next game.” – Jack Johnson, on his first playoff game.

“They had some good opportunities, but for the most part I thought there was a lot of perimeter stuff. They were taking a lot of shots from up top or on the outside. There were a few chances inside and Quickie was up for the challenge, but for the most part I thought the shot difference was a little bit different but we’re capable of more. We’ve got to maybe get some more shots at Luongo.” – Ryan Smyth, on the Canucks’ offensive chances.

“We weren’t making plays in the third. We were just chipping pucks out, trying to survive, I think. We needed to regroup, for sure, in the intermission. We needed to talk about things and just regroup. We came out and we got the forecheck going and got some chances, but it was a heck of a save by Luongo on that one, and they go back and make a great play, had a great shift and got the goal on that one.” – Jarret Stoll , on the Kings’ scoring chances in the third.

“I was a little concerned yesterday, maybe even at the morning skate today, but again, I really liked the way we handled ourselves in the locker room before the game started. There was a lot of the right things being talked about. I think it showed with the first half of the first period. There was good stuff, good composure. We managed the puck well and made plays. I really was very pleased with the young team.” – Terry Murray , on the playoff debut for his young team.

Around the Kingdom: Game One Kings blogs

Goalie Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save against the Vancouver Canucks in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at General Motors Place on April 15, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)• The Royal Half: Game Won

Well, that game was totally awesome. The Los Angeles Kings came out strong in during the first period in their first playoff game in 8 years… played a bit uneven for the remainder of the game… and if it wasn’t for an amazing save by one of the world’s best goalies… all we’d be talking about today is the Kings stunning win over the Vancouver Canucks.

• HockeyBuzz’s Matthew Barry: Canucks Draw First Blood With 3-2 OT Win

The Kings defense. Even though they were outworked along the boards, it could have been MUCH worse. Positionally, they seemed to be at the right plae at the right time for most of the game. I especially loved Jack Johnson plowing Burrows… but giving credit where credit is due, Bieksa’s(?) hit on Doughty was perfect.

• Jewels of the Crown: Only Gaining That Experience; Canucks 3, Kings 2 (OT)

There is no doubt the Kings need to adjust to how the Canucks are charging at them every shift, and they have a day and a half to figure it out. Game 2 is on Saturday. More than enough time to revamp the game plan if need be.

• LA Kings News: How to deal with idiots in green Spandex

** Death is a definite potentiality, but hey, I’m sure these guys consider themselves a part of the Vancouver Canucks. This is the playoffs, this is war. In war, there are casualties.

• Examiner.com’s Jonathan Moncrief: Kings
left Jonesing in OT loss

Struggling to move the puck out of their defensive zone,
defenseman Randy Jones made an unfortunate read and tried to pass the
puck through the middle of the ice, rather than go up the boards as
Terry Murray and his staff have preached every day for two years.  The
turnover led to the Canucks creating several chances in the offensive
zone over the next half minute of action.  The puck eventually came to
be on the stick of Henrik Sedin, who made a Gretzky-esque pass from
behind the net to feed Samuelsson in the high slot area.  The one-timer
blast by Samuelsson beat goaltender Jonathan Quick and gave Vancouver a
1-0 series lead in the Kings first playoff game in eight years.

• Frozen Royalty: LA Kings Turnover A Win In Game One Against Vancouver

The Kings played a solid game, but a costly miscue during the overtime period by defenseman Randy Jones, who made a careless, backhand pass at center ice that was easily picked off by the Canucks, gave them their final scoring opportunity and they capitalized on it.

• Deep Inside the Kings: Fail and Fail

Ok, so the Kings lost game 1. No big deal. They played a stellar game and lost as a result of a neutral zone turnover. One of many during the game by both teams. Oh well. On to game 2. One thing is for sure. Vancouver has its hands full and the Kings will only get stronger as the series goes on.

• Purple Crushed Velvet: Kings 2, Canucks 3 (OT) – [insert whiny sigh]

Depth at front came through today.  As expected the Kings top line was shut down at even strength and guys like Brad Richardson, who had a very respectable 17 minutes of ice-time and got his face crushed into the glass, and Michal Handzus played well.

• Rink Royalty: Kings Game One and Done

Randy Jones sucks. Not only was he a significant liability, where every time something bad was happening you could look on the ice and see Randy Jones. Not only did he make the awful turnover in OT that lead directly to the Canucks game-winning goal. But he was the Kings player with the 5th most ice time! Only Kopitar, Doughty, Greene and Johnson had more time. C’mon Murray, I know he played well (allegedly) in Philadelphia, but damn. It’s time to show him the bench.

• ProSportsBlogging’s Eric Cooney: Vancouver up, 1-0

Playoff virginity is gone for the Kings.  Say goodbye to the nerves and just play the game.  Now that the young guys have a taste for the playoffs, they’ll know what game they need to bring.  That game is their A+++ game.

Hockeywood Insider Playoff Special: Game 1

Game One is in the books, and Jesse and I break it down the only way we know how. Luongo’s save? Covered. Jack Johnson and Randy Jones? Covered. Brad Richardson? Yup. Drew Doughty? Uh-huh. Terry Murray’s matchup on the Sedin Sisters? Absolutely.

The Kings played admirably, and we reflect that in the podcast. So grab yourself a 5-Hour Energy Drink and some Gem Donettes. It’s the Hockeywood Insider, brought to you by KLAC 570 and LetsGoKings.

Don’t forget, you can subscribe on iTunes, so you can get the podcast before anyone else does.

What We’re Saying: A Little Home Cookin’

Anze Kopitar
• LA Times: Kings’ Dean Lombardi sees remodeling project start to take shape


After a long wait, the Kings have found their way back to the playoffs. They are the sixth-seeded team in the tough Western Conference and Thursday night play their first postseason game since 2002, facing the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks.

• LA Times: Kings coach doesn’t change top two lines


The top two lines of  Ryan Smyth-Anze Kopitar- Justin Williams and Alexander Frolov-Jarret Stoll-Dustin Brown  will remain intact. So will the defense, with Rob Scuderi paired with Drew Doughty,  Sean O’Donnell with Matt Greene  and Randy Jones with  Jack Johnson.

• LA Times: Kings’ Jonathan Quick, Canucks’ Roberto Luongo can’t stop the questions


Funny how two guys managed to combine for 79 regular-season wins and many of the questions in Vancouver and Los Angeles are striking the same note of concern just before the playoffs open.

• LA Daily News: Kings’ Doughty ready for royal return


Considering his contribution to Canada’s golden moment, will Doughty be received as hockey royalty by Canuck fans today? Or will he merely be treated like a King? 

• LA Daily News: Kings relish underdog role in NHL playoffs


“A lot of people have picked (Vancouver) as maybe coming out of the West,” Sean O’Donnell said. “They’ve got some guys – (Ryan) Kesler, Burrows, (Pavol) Demitra – who can beat you, and the play well defensively. They’ve got good special teams. They’ve got all the things that you need to advance in the playoffs.” 

• ESPNLosAngeles’ Tom Murray: Kings-Canucks Preview


The Kings are a different story. As great a player as Anze Kopitar is, and he had a terrific season, with career highs of 34 goals and 81 points, Kings coach Terry Murray will be the first one to tell you there are no superstars on his team (although I’d argue that Drew Doughty is well on his way). For that reason, Murray preaches vigilance and responsibility in both the offensive and defensive zones and wants hard plays to be made through the neutral zone by all his players.

• ESPN’s Tom Murray: For Smyth, The “Nasty Zone” Is Home

“He’s one of those guys that just likes to score those dirty, nasty goals,” said Sean O’Donnell. “I think if you asked Smytty if he’d like to have a 2 on 1 and score over the goalie’s glove hand or take a shot in the chest that drops down and he gets crosschecked as he puts it in the net, I think he would take that kind of goal every time.”

• ESPN’s Tom Murray: Two Main Keys To A Series Win For Kings

First: how successful they are in containing Vancouver’s number one line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. And second, the ability of the Kings to create traffic in front of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. 

• Frozen Royalty: LA Kings Can Get Past Vancouver Canucks If They Put It All Together

If the Kings can do that throughout the series, they should win it in six or seven games, despite the fact that the Canucks have such a potent attack led by the league’s top scorer, Henrik Sedin. But if the Kings are unable to get it together, the Canucks will resurface the ice with them in five or six.

• Mayor’s Manor: The Mayor’s Playoff Preview with Bob Miller

I think for the Kings…they key is they have to be strong defensively.  They have to have Jonathan Quick back on his game, the way he was before the Olympic break.  And they have to get some more scoring.  They just have not been scoring very much since the break.  They have to get more scoring from a variety of people too.  I do like the way Dustin Brown has played lately.  For your captain to be playing as well as he has going into the playoffs, I think that’s a plus.

• The Throne Room: Series Preview: 3) Vancouver vs. 6)Los Angeles

My prediction: The Kings’ D keeps the Canucks’ reasonably quiet, their forwards wreak havoc on the battered Vancouver D down low and generate enough offense to win a series of close games. Quick steps up when he’s needed, and the Kings win in game 6 at Staples Center.

• Battle of California: LA v. Vancouver: Sister City Slap Fight

Overall, they’re a shitty, miserable team that doesn’t deserve to live, let alone move on to the 2nd round.   Unfortunately, they’re better than us and will move on to the 2nd round.  Oh well, no big deal.  Rather mourn in paradise than celebrate outside the pearly gates.

• Examiner.com’s Jonathan Moncrief: NHL Playoffs Series Preview: Kings vs Canucks


Having just concluded their third ever 100+ point season in franchise history, the Kings are preparing for their first round match-up with Northwest Division champion Vancouver.

• Jewels From The Crown: Kings vs. Canucks: How’s it Looks

At this time last year I was making my playoff bracket and had placed Vancouver as the winner of the Western Conference. I was pretty confident in my selection since it seemed like it was time for them to make a deep run, but that was not the case then and it will not be the case this year. To be honest, it’s not because they’re playing the Kings, more because they’re not as good from my perspective. Right now I’m confident with the Kings’ forward lines, the defensive pairings, and have just a bit less confidence with the goalie situation.

• Inside Hockey’s Brian Kennedy: Kings-Canucks: Perhaps Not What You Think


Luongo has proved in the past when bothered that he gets rattled, so watchers can expect Smyth to be on the edge of the crease while the other two fire away from the faceoff dots. Brown and his unit of Alex Frolov and Jared Stoll will do the same, and they’ve proved their grit as the season has gone along. Stoll, particularly, is scoring these days.

What They’re Saying: National Media Chimes In

Jonathan Quick• ESPN’s Scott Burnside: First-round breakdown: Canucks-Kings

3. Are you experienced? The perception is the Kings will be the wet-behind-the-ears kids facing the worldly Canucks. Not so fast. Credit Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi with carefully dropping in some worldly characters of his own over the past couple of seasons. There’s Smyth, a warrior’s warrior to be sure who plays mostly with Kopitar. There’s Williams, who won a Cup in Carolina when his Canes beat Smyth’s Edmonton Oilers  in the 2006 Cup finals.

• ESPN’s John Buccigross: West outlook and Hockey Hall debates

The Kings are dangerous because they can score and might have the best defenseman in the Western Conference in Drew Doughty. To have someone that mobile on defense, it can disrupt the Canucks’ top line. People see the Canucks, they see Roberto Luongo, and they think the Canucks are a sub-200 goals-allowed team or something. The Avs and Predators gave up more goals than the Canucks. Everyone else in the West has given up fewer. I was at the Kings’ fanfest in September and was really impressed with Dustin Brown and the togetherness of the team. I talked myself out of picking them for the playoffs after leaving the fanfest; but you could feel something there, and I feel something here. This series will be an overtime-fest. I feel and I will feel the Kings in seven games.

• AP: High-scoring Canucks face youthful Kings

The power plays posted nearly identical numbers near the top the league (20.8 percent for the Kings to 20.9 for the Canucks), and the penalty kill struggled similarly in the bottom half of the NHL (80.3 percent for Los Angeles to 81.6 for Vancouver). Even home-ice advantage is tempered.

• Yahoo: The West’s playoff X-Men

Justin Williams  is 28 years old and a two-time 30-goal scorer with Carolina in 2005-06 and ’06-07 (and he also scored seven goals and 18 points in 25 playoff games during Carolina ‘s ’06 Cup championship). In short, he should be in his prime.

• Yahoo: Western Conference is wide open

This just has the feel of a long, hard-fought series with sudden death looming at every turn. At the very least, it might be the conference’s most entertaining opening-round series.  Prediction: Canucks in seven.

• Yahoo: Puck Daddy 2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Staff Prognostications

Even if I’m fairly convinced that the Los Angeles Kings are going to upset them in the first round, I can’t go against what might just end up being The Greatest Prediction in The History of Puck Daddy Prognostications.

• Yahoo: Y! Sports staff’s NHL round-by-round playoff predictions

(Don’t bother. All four writers have the Canucks winning in 6 or 7 games.)

• USA Today:  Sizing up the Western Conference: Underdogs could win three series

Forecast: After missing the playoffs for six seasons, the Kings will post an upset to win a playoff series for the first time since 2001. It will take six games.

• Sporting News: Upset Candidate

Los Angeles Kings over Vancouver Canucks: Coach Terry Murray would have preferred a few more wins down the stretch, but the Kings finished with more than 100 points for the first time since 1990-91. Goalie Jonathan Quick said his team will draw from its success throughout the season rather than focus on any hiccups in the final couple of weeks.

• NHL.com: Canucks-Kings Storylines

Long Time Coming: The Kings will be making their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2002. There are no players on this year’s roster remaining from the 2001-02 squad. The Kings collected 101 points (46-27-9), 22 more than in all of 2008-09 (34-37-11) and the most since a Kings team featuring Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Tomas Sandstrom, Dave Taylor, Tony Granato, Steve Duchesne, Larry Robinson and Kelly Hrudey won the Smythe Division with 102 points in 1990-91.

What They’re Saying: The View from America’s Hat

Drew Doughty• Vancouver Sun: Canucks-Kings series advantage rests on thin edge

The Kings are led by a couple of talented youngsters in Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, who combined for 95 points. Doughty, in particular, has had an outstanding season and was terrific in the Olympic tournament for Team Canada. Greybeard Sean O’Donnell and the likes of Randy Jones and Rob Scuderi give the Kings a veteran element on defence. Both O’Donnell and Scuderi have Stanley Cup rings. Slight edge to the Kings  EDGE KINGS 

Vancouver’s penalty-killing, already hurt by the absence of Willie Mitchell, took another blow late in the season when shot-blocking specialist Ryan Johnson was lost with a foot injury. Los Angeles enters the series without any injuries. Based on that, the Kings have a slight edge.  EDGE KINGS 

• Vancouver Sun: Canucks gear up for young, inexperienced L.A. Kings

“L.A. is young and they don’t have a lot of experience,” said Canucks defenceman Shane O’Brien. “But you learn as you go and experience will only take you so far. They have a bunch of guys who play hard, finish their hits and play hard. It’s not going to be easy. I think it’s going to be a physical series and I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.”

• CBC: Canucks-Kings playoff history goes way back

The Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings haven’t faced each other in the playoffs in 17 years, but they engaged in three memorable battles in just over a decade.

• TSN’s Bob McKenzie: Some loose ends to tie up before the playoffs begin

Okay, I am obliged to make playoff predictions, so here they are in all their gory glory: Washington over Montreal in 6; Philadelphia over New Jersey in 6; Buffalo over Boston in 7; Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 6; San Jose over Colorado in 6; Chicago over Nashville in 6; Los Angeles over Vancouver in 6; Detroit over Phoenix in 5.

Predictions may be the dumbest thing ever – I mean, if the media was any good at forecasting outcomes, we’d all be living in mansions in Vegas — but they go with the territory. So there you go…(Ed. note: Gee, thanks Bob…)

• Canadian Press: Rewriting history: LA Kings prepare for return to playoffs after 8-year absence

“I knew they had been kind of slacking off, and hadn’t made the playoffs for a while,” said Doughty, the 20-year-old defenceman chosen by the Kings with the No. 2 overall pick in 2008. “It’s exciting to be here now, though. It’s cool to be a part of bringing it back.”

• The Province: Upstart Kings will play this series to win: Smyth

On a line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams to begin the year, Smyth put himself back on the radar for the Olympic team with 23 points in 22 games when he and the Kings jumped out of the starting gate. It wasn’t to be, but it was one last push, which gives you an indication of how pumped he’s been over the years to put on the Maple Leaf.

• The Province: Top line vs. top line? You might just see it

Kopitar, who finished the season 17th in NHL scoring with 34-47-81 in 82 games, said he’s well aware of what makes Henrik and his linemates — twin brother Daniel and emerging star Alex Burrows — so effective.

• Montreal Gazette: Canucks strategy will be to keep a lid on Kings’ Kopitar

Expect Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault to get his shutdown pair of Sami Salo and Alex Edler out against Kopitar and linemates Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams as much as possible.

• The Globe and Mail: How the Los Angeles Kings were built

Yet, given all their built-in advantages, and their fans’ waning patience, the Kings did not succumb to quick fixes – building with expensive free agents like the New York Rangers, their big market bookend on the opposite coast, did. That has served the Kings well in the salary cap era, and it’s about to pay dividends. 

• Canadian Press: Having firepower gives Canucks edge over young Kings in NHL playoffs

Having that firepower is a great security blanket. But the Canucks know they will be flirting with disaster if they don’t tighten up on defence when they open their first-round NHL playoff series Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

• Canucks.com: Kings back in playoffs against battle-tested Canucks

Big story — On one side, you have a Canucks team that has plenty of familiarity with the playoffs. With the Kings, it’s not lacking, but they’re not bursting with it, either. Ryan Smyth and Sean O’Donnell have been there, done that. But for four of the five leading scorers on the Kings — Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown and Alexander Frolov — this is their first trip to the postseason. The Kings and Canucks didn’t finish far apart in the standings, but experience could be the difference.

• Examiner.com’s Daniel Fung: Game One Preview: Canucks vs Kings

One of the biggest questions that continue to swirl around the team has to do with the recent performance of netminder Roberto Luongo, who comes into the playoffs having surrendered 17 combined goals in his final four regular season games.