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07-27-2012, 03:15 PM
  #165
Original Blue
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Anaheim, CA The postseason will finally arrive tomorrow and there will be some amazing match ups to kick things off. In the East there is a treat as two sets of heated rivals will face-off. A classic contest filled with hatred between Toronto and Ottawa will only bring more memories and add to the fire of both teams. Out of the Mid-Atlantic things will only get even more intense as conference leaders Pittsburgh will be traveling to once again take on the Rangers in the playoffs. The team has been in fighting position for the top of the league standings all season and acquiring rental Zach Parise in order to go after the cup this season was seen by many as possibly the last piece to push them over. In the past the Rangers have not fared well and the young team was only just able to squeak into the final playoff position in the East after seemingly not meeting the high expectations they had set for themselves for most of the season; however, this team is always ready to put up a fight especially when the Penguins are in town.

But the real attention has to turn to the West which has been seen by most this season as the more dominant conference. The President Trophy winners Detroit enter the post season on fire as they have gone 8-2 in their last ten games and there is a very important match-up between the 4th and 5th seeded teams with division rivals Chicago traveling to Nashville in order to kickoff of their hopeful cup run. What may be the most intriguing series in the playoffs however, will be happening in southern California as the Anaheim Ducks will be facing their despised division rivals the L.A. Kings. There has never been any respect or friendliness shared between these two teams in a series that is likely to explode into an all-out battle at some point.

The Kings entered the season with an eye squared directly on going after the cup starting in 2012. There has been a known youth movement brewing in L.A. for a few seasons and with the emergence of such stars as Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and captain Dustin Brown management felt that they were in a position to acquire certain pieces in order to build upon that effort. It began by acquiring budding defensive defenseman Victor Hedman and veteran Ryan Malone in return sending away multi-season 30 plus goal scorer Jeff Carter and backup Jonathan Bernier who was seeking a starting role with a different club. Management also were able to trade the inconsistent Dustin Penner in a three-way deal with Columbus and Montreal in order to acquire flight-risk but high octane Alexander Radulov. These moves seemed to not help L.A. however, as by the trade deadline they were still trailing San Jose and surprise division leaders Anaheim.



The trade deadline seemed to bring a whole new team along as GM Pdogfizzle decided to make a few moves to shake things up. In a matter of days the Kings had acquired Patrick Elias, P.A. Parenteau, and Brendan Morrow. Fans were a little skeptical at all the movement especially when beloved Justin Williams was sent to the Lightning, but things have seemed to turn around rather quickly for the Kings as they were able to secure the 7th seed finishing the regular season with a scorching 8-2 record in the last ten games.



Over the season, Dustin Brown took full charge and led the team in both goals and points posting a 35-34-69. What may be most notable however, was the season Drew Doughty had. Really turning it up after the All-Star break Doughty finished with 48 assists and 58 points. The Kings were also able to develop a deep team as they have now through many acquisitions put together a lineup with 8 people that have scored over 50 points this season. The main thing the team will be hanging their hat on however, is that during the regular season the Kings went an impressive 4-2 against the Ducks. They are now looking to take this extra momentum and confidence to upset their hated patrons.


Anaheim will be heading into this series with a lot of confidence as well as they've been able to put together a very impressive season finishing 2nd in the conference and 4th in the NHL with 107 pts. Going into the season this was not a team that many people thought would be in this type of position, but some surprising trades have worked out very well and this club seems to have a very impressive collection of young players that can compete for many years to come. The most shocking of course was when Anaheim announced that they had traded Corey Perry to St. Louis. The return has turned out to be a quite impressive as the trio of Oshie, Shattenkirk, and Steen have combined for 179 points. Steen has been very impressive playing most of the season on the top line with Getzlaf and Ryan and only being moved to the second line with his old buddy T.J. Oshie once Milan Michalek was acquired at the deadline. Steen finished the season leading the Ducks in assists and points posting 29-49-77 over the 82 game season. Oshie was also very impressive posting a 30-30 season and being a very important member of both the PP and PK. The final member of the trio followed suit and was able to put up 28 assists and showed signs of becoming a future top-line defenseman in the league. This trade does not seem to be the most important however, as Anaheim went on to move Jonas Hiller for superstar veteran goalie Ryan Miller. With a young defense core it was massive to the club to acquire far more stability in the net than they have ever had and Miller has really been a spectacular acquisition maintaining a GAA of under 2.25 all season. He was rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Game and may be one of the biggest reasons why Anaheim has been able to maintain such an impressive GA all season.

Going into this series however, a lot of emphasis we'll be put on Anaheim's top line stars of Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan leading the team as well as helping to stop L.A.'s impressive top line. The duo both had great seasons as Ryan again netted 30+ goals and both finished with 75 points. The good news is that with Michalek now joining the duo the top line finished the season scoring 11 goals in 12 games while going against some of the best competition in the league. Although Anaheim finished the season 5-4-1 this team has been a model of consistency all season and are hoping to make a deep run in this years playoffs.


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