NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 – SAN JOSE vs LOS ANGELES
SERIES BEGINS: TUESDAY 14th MAY 2013
PUCK DROP: 10PM ET (3AM GMT)
HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? San Jose shocked the hockey world by pulling apart the Vancouver Canucks in a 4 game sweep in Round 1. They didn’t do it with overpowering offence or stifling defence, they just simply outplayed them in each game. Average 3.75 goals per game and 2 goals against, they got a lot of help from their powerplay which clicked at a 29.2% rate, and were dominant on the shot clock by outshooting Vancouver by an average of 5 shots per game. Perhaps most notable was the great performance put in by goalie Antti Niemi, who was rock solid for the Sharks.
Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture paced the team with 8 points each, whilst Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau shrugged off the usual accusations of them fading in the playoffs by scoring 6 and 5 points respectively, whilst Thornton led the team with a +3 rating.
LA, as per their usual style, didn’t get off to the best start versus St Louis, losing the first two games, but stormed back to win the next 4 consecutive games to take the series and win their 5th consecutive playoff series. They only averaged and 2 goals for per game and a stingy 1.67 goals against, and were a slightly anaemic 13.3% on the powerplay, so they won’t overwhelm offensively, but what they will do is grind a team down with physical agitating play (hello, Dustin Brown!) and score timely goals. They are one of the best possession teams in the league, and that same system that got them so far last year is still working this year.
Mike Richards leads the team with 5 points (all assists) in 6 games, whilst Slava Voynov leads the team with a +5 rating. Jonathan Quick posted a stunning 1.58 GAA and .944 SV%, and will be one to watch in this series.
PREDICTION: This could very well come down to a battle of goalies. Both Quick and Niemi have been stunning for their teams so far, and will be looked to again to provide top notch goaltending for teams that don’t score a tonne of goals. I don’t see San Jose winning, but then I thought the same before their defeat of Vancouver. That said, LA is just too damn impressive, and I think they ultimately take this one, probably in 6 games.