That doesn’t matter at this point though. Daniel Sedin returned to the line-up and Vancouver won the game. Now, after a long break so Coldplay could play a few sold out shows in BC, the series resumes.
Perhaps the long gap between games four and five will also be a blessing in disguise. For the Kings, Jeff Carter‘s ankle – injured coming into the series – has had more time to heal. Meanwhile, the Canucks have endured the Canadian media pestering them at every turn with question after question about what they need to do to win.
From and LA perspective, here are five key points heading into game five:
– Goaltending: Jonathan Quick has arguably been the best player in the series, or at least the most consistent over four games. His 1.77 goals against average and .950 save percentage are numbers that any team or coach would gladly take in the post-season. Only one problem though, Vancouver’s Cory Schneider has only allowed one goal in each of the last two games and he’s starting again tonight. Quick has to be at his best if the Kings are to close out the series.
– In-game adjustments: They say ‘be careful what you with for.’ Kings fans were notorious for complaining about former coach Terry Murray’s near-obsession with changing the line combinations as quickly as the Santa Ana winds. On the flip side, Darryl Sutter‘s middle name just might be consistency. He’s by and large kept the same line combinations together, almost to a fault. Key word, almost. It’s hard to argue with the evil genius that is Sutter. He’s transformed the Kings into the team everybody thought they’d be at the beginning of the season and has them up 3-1 over the President’s Trophy winners. However, it was Vancouver who made the necessary adjustments during the first intermission of game four and took over the final 40 minutes. Sutter has put Dustin Penner up with Mike Richards and Carter at least twice in the series and it paid off both times. If the Kings fall behind tonight, some sort of on-the-fly adjustments will be needed.
– Drew Doughty: Credit where credit is due, number-8 has maintained composure in the series and not taken stupid penalties. However, continuing with a season long theme, the Kings will most likely need secondary scoring to finish off the Canucks. He had seven points in six playoff games two years ago (3 goals, 4 assists) and four points last year (2g, 2a). With just one assist in the series thus far, the Kings need more from Doughty. He’s one of those players who, traditionally, the bigger the game the bigger he plays. There’s no bigger game than tonight. The Kings don’t want to give the Canucks any more life than they already have.
– Carter: As documented a few days ago on MayorsManor, when Carter had at least four shots on goal, the Kings were 6-2 in the regular season. He led all LA players with seven shots in LA’s game four loss. Sutter and Carter agreed that despite the outcome, it was his best performance of the series. Carter himself admitted he had more jump in his step and was creating opportunities. They’ll need him to be as good or better tonight. It’s the perfect time for him to pick up his first playoff goal vs. the Canucks.
– Pressure, pressure, pressure: As a team, the Kings weren’t overly down after Wednesday’s loss. Sure, they wanted to close out the series at home. Yet, they quickly realized they lost the game as much as Vancouver won the game. LA didn’t put enough pressure on the Canucks top forwards, namely the Sedin brothers. Anze Kopitar talked about giving them ‘too much time and space’ and it can’t happen again tonight if the Kings are to have a chance to win. All season long, when the Kings have been aggressive and physical, they’re usually at their best.
If you want one more thing to think about, just for good measure, the Kings haven’t won the faceoff battle in any of the four games. With a team deep down the middle – Kopitar, Richards and Jarret Stoll – you’d think their strong face-off skills would rise to the top for at least one game. Is tonight that night?
Be sure to join us after the game for the MayorsManor LIVE post-game show. We’ll recap all the storylines that unfold, Jim Fox will call in from Vancouver to give us his take on things and we’ll look ahead to what’s next for the Kings. Will it be a second round match-up or a game six in LA? We’ll cover it all, click here to listen.