Before it gets too interesting
Win tomorrow night – that would be the sh*t. But seriously, don’t let it get too close.
You can hardly call Game 4′s loss a failure, considering the fact the Kings are still strong suited with a 3-1 series lead – that’s something you’d gawk at the opportunity of having before this postseason tilt even began.
It’s just another chance to close things out when we’re talking Game 5, this time without the over-anxiety stemming from the ‘sweep’ hype, and the NHL history it involved. Yes, the 8th-seed club may have held a little more pressure on the shoulders than the 1st for a moment or two Wednesday night.
For now, it’s about finishing Vancouver as quickly as possible, they will get scarier with each progressive contest, which means Game 5 is the Kings’ best fit.
Bright spot – Kopi shot
It’s safe to say the Kings outplayed the Vancouver Canucks when looking at Game 4 as a whole, but they failed to turn that into scoreboard proof with a shaky 2nd period, one that started with a penalty you really don’t like to see a player take this time of year. Colin Fraser‘s 4th line played outstanding, but his leg-check penalty taken just three minutes into the middle frame sparked Vancouver’s troubling offense.
After killing off all of Vancouver’s 14 powerplay opportunities in the first three games of the series, it would faulter in Game 3, the Kings allowing two man-advantage tallies – the first of those converted during Colin Fraser‘s penalty.
Special teams proved to figure into the winning matter again, but the Kings on the wrong side of things this time. While running into trouble on the penalty kill, they ran into a more disciplined Vancouver team, which also committed just three penalties – all of which the Kings failed to capitalize on.
And that time was finally decided upon early on Saturday. Due to concert arrangements at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, this series took a halt for four days, a drastically long time for a playoff series. And due to Television agreements, the time of Sunday’s game was decided the day prior – a decent fortune for the Kings, who get a later start – 5PM Pacific.
The four day hiatus seems to favor the Canucks, who get more time to aid to Daniel Sedin‘s return to the roster, and more time to build off of their second grasp at playoff life with Game 4′s victory. However, the Kings didn’t seem to buy much out of Vancouver’s push, continuing to hound the Canucks throughout the second half of Wednesday night’s contest.
Their problem was Corey Schneider, who has stopped 62 of 64 Kings shots since taking over for Roberto Luongo in Game 3. The Kings biggest feat in tomorrow night’s game could very well be putting more than two goals past Schneider, which for when you’re playing in front of Jonathan Quick, deems to be some very solid insurance.
Brad Richardson‘s return sparked the Kings’ fourth line more so than I expected it to, arguably the most predominant combination in Game 4. The no-namers chimed in with stunning play, Dwight King, Colin Fraser, and Brad Richardson combining for six shots and 11 hits. A heavy physical presence bodes well against the Canucks in their zone, which has seemed to be the major factor in establishing control on the offensive zone for the Kings. The 4th line didn’t just get the puck into Canucks’ territory, they kept it there.
Kyle Clifford will be out, again. It seems indefinite at this point.
I noted the extra days off in between games favored Vancouver, but hopefully it also has some effect on the rehabilitation of Jeff Carter, who has almost been a complete non-factor for the Kings offensively. After a nice start to the series with two assists in Game 1, Carter has plummeted under the radar with 0 points in the last three contests, carrying a musky -3 rating. A Jeff Carter with a good ankle doesn’t just open up options through his own skill, but that of his linemates – most notably Mike Richards.
Two major performers in Game 5 for the Kings last season were Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds, albeit under much different circumstances. Both players will be missed, and for obvious different reasons. Who fills the void, and repeats the Game 5 playoff trend tomorrow night?
Clifford, the Red Light Dog