Three – Oh!
Predict this happening, and it’s a sure ‘no’. Don’t look now; But, Oh!
This isn’t real; Hold up now, yes it is.
The Kings have pulled the unthinkable in winning each of the first three games in this Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Vancouver Canucks, now sitting pretty with a commanding 3-0 series lead, just one win away from advancing to the second round.
If the Kings are to notch one more victory in this series, it would be the first time they have advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals since April of 2001, a humbling 11-year streak that is now being heavily threatened.
If you think changing franchise history is a big deal, think about breaking NHL history. Never has an 8th seed team beat a 1st seed team in four consecutive games, and this 2011-2012 Kings roster has an extremely valid shot at being the first to ever do so. With a win tomorrow night, they will accomplish that never-before touched feat.
And you ask yourselves why it’s happened, but that’s not a very good question, because it’s just Dustin Brown. Again, the guy plays an outstandingly marvelous game Sunday night just like he has all series. Brown, who led the Kings in shots in Game 1, nailed the series opener’s coffin shut with his empty-net goal. Brown assisted Jarret Stoll on the game-winner in Game 2, this after potting two short-handed goals himself. And of course, Captain California sends Vancouver to the brink with his Game 3 jam-shot.
There’s no way you can leave Jonathan Quick out of this equation, who turned away a whopping 41 Vancouver shots in rout to earning his first career NHL postseason shutout. Quick withheld the Canucks from having any luck in the only extended period of time they’ve outplayed the Kings this entire series, the Canucks outshooting the Kings 25-11 through the first 40 minutes. After saving the Kings from a sub-par first two periods, Quick took his heaviest load of shots (16) in the 3rd – protecting Dustin Brown‘s lone tally.
Game 3 was the type of game the Kings had been playing all season long. Slow starts, little-to-no offense, and a 1-goal game. There’s a reason why they’re used to these, and why the nerves are mellow in these situations right now, and that’s goaltending – Jonathan Quick. Quick has sufficed in maintaining hope for the Kings with lackluster goal scoring all season long, and the defense is comfortable in playing in front of him in those situations.
In Games 1 and 2, the Kings outsourced success to the special teams. On Monday night, they did it the old fashioned way.
Smiles at the Stape
With Monday night’s Game 3 victory, the Kings snapped their five-game playoff losing streak at Staples Center. Their previous postseason win in Los Angeles, which dates back to April 19, 2010, was also their only playoff win at Staples Center since 2002. This takes the bite off of their 1-5 record in home confines during the past two playoff appearances.
Bad ice, could be nice: The intersection at Figueroa and Chick Hearn hosted an NBA contest before Monday’s game, and the ice conditions were absolutely brutal. Quite frankly, I’m surprised the NHL didn’t take action. But, then again, there’s little you can change when the venue is Staples Center, you’re lucky enough to find a schedule opening with two NBA teams. The Lakers game prior to the Kings’ date went into overtime, putting more pressure on the ice surface, and less time for breathing room before puck-drop.
As much as I’m sure many Kings players hate it, this very well could be playing into their favor. The Vancouver Canucks have some of the NHL‘s best ice at Rogers Arena; the Kings, historically some of the worst. However, it’s much easier to transition onto well-manicured ice than it is to adapt to a soft, slow surface.
Also take into consideration how often the Kings play clubs in the Pacific Division as opposed to how often the Canucks do. Ice conditions don’t get a whole lot better in San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, or Dallas.
The Kings are used to bad ice conditions, the Canucks aren’t. This slows down the game for opposition, which allows the Kings to prone on their physical play with slower, more hesitant puck movement. A bad bounce or two for the Kings, and it’s just another game at home. A bad bounce or two for Vancouver, and it can have mental effects.
Looking at Game 4
– The Canucks chipped Daniel Sedin a plane ticket to Los Angeles yesterday in hopes of him rejoining their roster tomorrow night. Sedin, who’s been out since March 22 with a concussion, is tabbed to be a ‘game time’ decision. Tab this as an act of serious desperation, tab Daniel Sedin as a ‘non-factor’.
– Brad Richardson will be back in the lineup for the Kings tomorrow night, fully recovered from his appendectomy. Richardson is slated to skate alongside Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line. Richardson, who posted three points in four games before hitting the IR, could be of use tomorrow night if he brings a little postseason magic like he did in last year’s Western Conference Quarterfinals with five points in six games.
– Feel comfortable? I think not. This club has exemplified what it means to be humble during this playoff stretch:
“It’s very possible for a team to come back, down 3-0. You’ve seen it happen so many times. We’ve got to make sure we close it out tomorrow. We’re in our home barn. We have our home fans. They’ve been great for us so far, and we’re sleeping in our own beds every night. We have no excuse not to play our best game of the series, coming up tomorrow. We have to.” – Drew Doughty via Rich Hammond
– Finish ‘em.
Grinnin ‘n winnin’
Flirting with history, flirting with the 2nd Round – like it’s 2001