Amodeo: Kings’ leading common playoff theme: don’t underestimate the underdog

Kings' captain Dustin Brown has led the way against the Canucks with four goals, one assist and a tremendous physical game. (BridgetDS/Flickr)

By: Danny Amodeo, Contributing Writer

Having a 3-0 series lead on the Vancouver Canucks is something that no one could have predicted of the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings heading into the playoffs. Nonetheless, the Kings have the opportunity to sweep the Canucks in Game 4 this Wednesday at the Staples Center.

While Vancouver has obviously struggled both at home and on the road, the Kings have been playing outstanding hockey so far in this series. Coach Daryl Sutter has been able to keep his team composed, as the Kings have, for the most part, avoided extra-circular activities after the whistle.

Defensively, the Kings have done a great job playing the dots as they’ve been forcing the Canucks to shoot from the boards, limiting scoring chances from the middle of the ice. The Kings have also done a great job at getting into the shooting lanes, which has also limited the amount of quality scoring chances for the Canucks. Despite being badly outshot in Game 3, the Kings where effective in blocking a lot of shots and making things easier for goaltender Jonathan Quick, who’s played exceptionally well between the pipes by not only stopping pucks and coming up with some key saves, but controlling rebounds as well.

Quick has been playing like an experienced Venzia winner. His ability to smoother every shot that he faces has been key for the Kings to avoid giving up second and third chances. He has only given up five goals against to the Western Conference’s highest scoring team in the regular season. Quick has been impressive in keeping his composure throughout the series, as the Canucks have placed a lot of traffic in front of his goal. We have also seen Canucks forward Ryan Kesler attempt to get Quick off his game, giving his “snow showers” throughout the series, but Kesler’s antics have yet to pay dividends as he has been extremely ineffective for his team.

Offensively, captain Dustin Brown has lead the way for the Kings in this series, having scored four goals and one assist, which includes two shorthanded goals and one game-winner. In addition to scoring big goals for the Kings, Brown has also played extremely physical as well. Everyone will remember his massive bodycheck on Canucks’ captain Henrik Sedin in Game 3, which is a microcosm for his on-the-edge play throughout the entire series. Brown continues to be the energy spark for the Kings, as his physical game has opened up time and space for line mates Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar. He has also played a huge role in penalty killing for the Kings, not only blocking several shots throughout the series, but scoring the aforementioned two shorthanded goals.

With the Kings heading into Game 4 with a commanding 3-0 series lead, it will certainly take a miracle for Vancouver, who granted has been without top scorer Daniel Sedin, to come back and win the series.

While the Kings have impressed many in the postseason thus far, a lot of people forget about the wonderful position the Kings will be in this upcoming offseason.

Jonathan Bernier is a very promising goaltender and the Kings will be able to use Bernier as trade bait in this offseason to hopefully to add another young top six forward with some scoring ability. The Kings do have two good top lines, Kopitar-Brown-Williams and Carter-Richards-Penner/Lewis, however, with Williams aging and Penner’s consistent inconsistent play, the Kings could look elsewhere to add a winger to the fold in the offseason and come back even stronger in 2012-13.

Until then, it will be interesting to see how this first-round series ends, and not too look too far ahead, how the Kings might fair against a potential second-round opponent. One thing is for certain, the Kings seem to be part of a common trend that has developed over the first several games of the 2011-12 playoffs: don’t underestimate the underdog.


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