After 21 years the Freeway Faceoff is coming to the playoffs.
The Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings are facing each other in round two of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
So far this year the Ducks have had the Kings’ number, posting a 4-0-1 record including a 3-0 shutout in the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium.
The Kings, however, are coming into this series after a history-making comeback on the San Jose Sharks and winning four straight games against the state rivals.
The Ducks have come out victorious during the regular season, but the Kings come into this series playing on a whole different level.
So who will come out on top?
Keys to the Series:
Work Ethic – When the Ducks beat the Kings during the regular season, Anaheim simply outworked its’ opponent.
The Ducks would win the one-on-one battles, they were hard on the forecheck, and they would fight to get to the front of the net.
This is what the Kings did to beat San Jose and they’ll be coming into this series with as strong a work ethic as I have seen from them.
The Ducks will have to outwork them again if they want to take this round 2 series.
Discipline/Special Teams – We saw in the Ducks’ series against the Stars how big a difference a strong power play makes.
The Ducks scored four power play goals in Game 5. Their last-minute comeback in Game 6 was fueled by some 5-on-4 situations. Special teams all but won Games 5 and 6 for the Ducks.
The two teams are fairly even with the edge going towards the Ducks. Ducks have a 26.9 PP% and an 89.7 PK% while the Kings have a 25 PP% and an 87.5 PK%.
With these two teams a bad penalty on either side could be the difference between victory or defeat.
Players to Watch:
Ryan Getzlaf – After getting hit in the face with a puck in Game 1, Getzlaf wanted nothing more than to be back on the ice.
He missed one game, but still was able to post seven points in five games.
On and off the ice he is the leader of this Ducks team and will need to continue his strong efforts to carry this team past a confident LA group.
Devante Smith-Pelly – He scored two significant goals in an integral game six and has found his way into the ever-changing ducks lineup for five of the six games.
All eyes are on the youngster now that he’s making headlines and we’ll see what he can do with the opportunity.
He’s been in and out of the Ducks’ roster for a few years now. Will his performance in these playoffs be the big break he’s looking for?
Andersen had some good games, but looked tired and unfocused in the last game. Hiller came in and stopped all twelve shots he faced including a couple huge saves that kept the Ducks in the game.
Boudreau remains coy and refuses to say who will be in net come Saturday, but whoever it is will have to put together a stellar effort to stifle the Kings’ offense.
He started off really shakily allowing twelve goals in the first two games, then four more, including the OT winner, in game three.
He then came back to allow only five goals in four games, including a 3-0 shutout at the Shark Tank.
He, and his team, are getting back into playoff form and will have to rob a few goals from the Ducks’ offense to help the team move on to the next round.
Tyler Toffoli – Toffoli gathered five points (3-2=5) in round one and is a key part of the Kings’ depth in the forward position.
The Kings’ top six forwards are sure to be playing in top form, but the Ducks are going to be rolling four lines through the series, all of which are going to be dangerous.
Toffoli’s a young, speedy winger with a goal scoring touch and he, along with Tanner Pearson, will be key to the Kings’ depth throughout the series.
Drew Doughty – Doughty is the Kings’ top Defenseman and will most likely be tasked with shutting down the Ducks’ top pair of Getzlaf and Perry.
He looked strong in the last few games against the Sharks, including a key power-play goal in Game 7, and will need to stay strong against the highly motivated Ducks forwards.
This is a match up fans on both sides have been waiting for over 20 years.
Games between the two have always been heated, but we all know how much the intensity escalates in the playoffs.
These are two very strong teams reaching the height of their potential and the only thing that can be guaranteed is that this will be a series to remember for fans on both sides.
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