Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 West Semi-Final:
Game 5 @ Anaheim
May 12, 2014
7pm PST (10pm EST)
When they left Anaheim last week, the Los Angeles Kings were rolling with a 2-0 series lead over the Ducks in addition to winning six-straight games. But then they lost Games 3 and 4 on home ice, including being shut out in the latter. But so far, the road team has won every game in this series, and the Kings hope to continue that trend on Monday night at the Honda Center.
Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar led the way in Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim but both players were quiet when the series shifted up the road to Staples Center. In all fairness, however, Gaborik and Kopitar were not alone. The likes of Drew Doughty, Justin Williams and Mike Richards (despite finally scoring in Game 3) were ineffective at best on home ice. Even Jonathan Quick was pulled after the first period in Game 4 after allowing two goals on 11 shots.
In both games at home, the Los Angeles Kings were victims of slow starts. The Ducks scored once in the first in Game 3 and twice in the opening period in Game 4. The latter did them in and those two goals were the only tallies in the game.
While Quick was essentially hung out to dry by his defensive unit in both goals in the latter contest, he was replaced by rookie netminder Martin Jones. The move woke up the defense as they allowed a grand total of three shots for the remainder of the game (including zero in the second). Unfortunately, the silver-and-black, while showing spurts of hunger up front, could not find the back of the net. Like in Game 3, the Kings, while they were able to register a number of shots, failed to generate many scoring opportunities. Needless to say, this has to change should Los Angeles hope to regain the series lead in Game 5.
In addition, the Kings simply need a better start. It hurt them in both of their games at Staples Center but, as this Battle of SoCal has proven, playing in their opponent's building has been a different beast.
Expect Jonathan Quick to be back in the Los Angeles net and of course, after his 28-save performance, expect John Gibson to be back in goal for the Ducks in Game 5.
The 20-year-old Gibson became the first netminder to score a shutout in his playoff debut on Saturday and the youngest goaltender in NHL history to do so. Following his team's 2-0 win, Gibson was rewarded the game puck by the aforementioned Kings' defenseman Drew Doughty. A stand-up act by No. 8 but perhaps the former Norris Trophy nominee is trying to simply throw the Ducks netminder off his game by being nice.
Whether there's any truth to that is irrelevant as, come Monday night, both teams are simply looking to make their mark on this now best-of-three series.
Who will come out on top? We'll just have to see.
Enjoy the game!