Western Conference Quarterfinals:
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings
The Canucks won their second President’s Trophy in a row, and yes, they came within one win of the Cup last year, but so what? Is anybody really afraid of the Canucks?
As for that President’s Trophy, let’s be honest; The Manitoba Moose could win the President’s Trophy if they played in the Northwest division. The Canucks went 18-5-1 in a division in which no other team even made the playoffs. The St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, finished a mere 2 points shy of Vancouver, despite going 10-9-5 in a division with 3 other 100+ point playoff teams. The Rangers, who also came within 2 points of the Trophy, went 15-7-2 in a division that also includes three 100+ point playoff teams. The Canucks play in a glorified AHL division and still barely squeaked away with the league’s best record.
Luongo has been shaky all year; he lacked confidence in last year’s playoffs, and the coach is ready to pull him for Corey Schneider (whose GAA and SV% are better) at a moment’s notice. Keeping goalies on short leashes in the playoffs doesn’t work. Ask the Flyers.
Speaking of whom, the Kings pulled two blockbuster trades to reunite former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Carter’s addition has helped an offense which was not as good as it looked on paper (which also describes your typical LA headshot).
The Kings are stacked with former Flyers. Ron Hextall is in the front office (no doubt two-hand slashing other executives with a letter opener), Simon Gagne and Justin Williams are on the roster; former coach John Stevens behind the bench, and ex-coach Terry Murray was fired earlier in the season. The Kings are almost like the regular Flyers, except with solid goaltending and healthier food at the concession stands.
The Kings played in close games all year, and their offense is starting to come together. Goalie Jonathan Quick need only play a little bit better than the Luongo/Schneider tandem, and the Kings could pull the upset.
Kings in 7.