LA Kings

The LA Kings kick off their second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a rematch of their round one opponent last season, the Edmonton Oilers.

If last year’s seven-game series is indicative of what to expect in part two, then it’s bound to be another intense, skilled, and physical battle between the rivals. The fireworks kick off Monday in Edmonton at 7:00 pm PT on Bally Sports West and ESPN.

“If we’re not ready now, shame on us. We’ve worked on everything we possibly could to prepare at this part of the season, now we’ve got to apply it.” – Todd McLellan

Tale of the Tape
3.34 (10th) Goals per game 3.96 (1st)
3.10 (16th) Goals against per game 3.12 (17th)
25.3 (4th) Power play % 32.4 (1st)
75.8 (24th) Penalty kill % 77.0 (20th)
32.4 (11th) Shots per game 33.6 (6th)
27.9 (4th) Shots against per game 31.4 (18th)
53.3 (3rd) Faceoff Win % 50.8 (15th)

Keys to victory for the LA Kings

1. Discipline

This one is obvious. And LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan agrees to the point where he doesn’t feel a need to address it with his players.

“I don’t believe we have to talk a lot about it because their power play speaks volumes. If we’re planning on a short series then we can march to the penalty box. Doesn’t matter how good our penalty kill is they score one out of every three. They will get opportunities and they will make you pay. So we got to be smart. We know that.”

The Oilers are running a historically great power play with a conversion rate of 32.4% on the season. For the LA Kings, they’ll have to play a physical game against an opponent that will get their licks in, but as McLellan said, they’ll need to be smart. The more the games are played at 5v5 the better chance the Kings have at winning this series.

2. Mikey Anderson – Drew Doughty

Not having Drew Doughty in the playoff series last year between these two division foes was a huge loss for the LA Kings. There might not be a player more ready to get this series started than Doughty. He’s been waiting since 2018 to get back to playoff hockey and having to watch last season’s tilt in the press box due to injury has only built up his excitement level.

“Being in the stands, seeing the fans go crazy in both arenas, and seeing the emotion that all the guys were playing with on the ice just made me that much hungrier. I’m just super excited to get it going.”

Doughty is the best defenseman in the LA lineup. And the pairing of Drew and his partner Mikey Anderson is not just the best defensive pairing on the Kings, but one of the premier shutdown duos in the National Hockey League.

Among defensive pairs in the league with at least 500 minutes played this season, they own a 48.03 Corsi against per 60 (5th) and 2.38 expected goals against per 60 (14th), according to EvolvingHockey.com. But it’s been their ability to slow down Connor McDavid in the two games against him that should give the Kings’ a favorable matchup.

It’s a small sample size, but in 20:04 of ice time for Anderson-Doughty against McDavid this season, they put up a 68.20% expected goal share. Without Anderson-Doughty on the ice against the Oilers’ superstar, the expected goal share goes down to 41.65%, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

3. Depth scoring

The LA Kings don’t have the top-heavy superstar offensive talent the Oilers possess. Adrian Kempe finished with a 40+ goal season for the Kings for the first time since Robitaille, but they’ll need others to step up.

I’m looking at players like Trevor Moore, Alex Iafallo, and Phillip Danault to pitch in offensively. Especially since it seems the Kings could be without both Gabe Vilardi and Kevin Fiala to start the series. And if the ‘Nice Line’ can find its way back to prominence, that would be a huge boost for LA.

Also, the young players in the lineup for the Kings will be expected to score as well. Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Rasmus Kupari have all somewhat struggled in the goal column this season and that will have to turn around. It’s time to get past the mentality of this series just being an experience builder for them. When Todd McLellan was asked if it’s time for Byfield to start scoring goals his response was simple, “Yup.”

4. Goaltending

With all the talk of the offensive firepower the Oilers possess, Joonas Korpisalo and Pheonix Copley will be leaned upon. Although McLellan has given no indication as to who his starter is for Game 1, if the last two games are any hint, Korpisalo will be in net for LA come Monday night. And, looking at some statistics that would seem to be the most logical choice.

Since the March 3rd trade deadline, Korpisalo is top ten in almost all statistical categories for goalies. He owns a 7-3-1 record with LA and has a .921 Sv% (7th) and a 2.13 GAA (4th), including a .871 high-danger Sv% which is 7th among all goalies with at least 300 minutes since the deadline, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

The Oilers displayed the capability to win low-scoring games during the final stretch of the regular season, shedding the idea that they would need to score five or six goals a game to win. If that continues to be the case the goaltending matchup between the LA Kings’ duo and Edmonton’s surprising rookie Stuart Skinner will be something to monitor.

5. Stick to the 1-3-1 system

Speed is one of the best traits of the Oilers. And the best way to slow down the explosive Edmonton offense is by clogging the neutral zone. The prime benefit of a good 1-3-1 system. The exact system the LA Kings like to implement.

Hope you guys are ready for another fun-filled, heart-pounding, nerve-racking playoff matchup between two teams who clearly don’t care for each other. This one is going to be a doozy. I’m pumped and can’t wait for Monday night!

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