On paper, offense should be an area of this series that the Canucks should far and away be the better team.
Vancouver wasn't quite as dominant this season on offense compared to last year but still finished with the fifth-most goals in the entire league scoring a total of 241 - tied with the Blackhawks for most among all Western Conference teams - for an average of 2.94 goals per game. Los Angeles is on the opposite side of the fence finishing with the second-worst offense in the league scoring just 188 total goals for an average of 2.29 goals per game.
As far as the season series was concerned, however, it was the Kings that actually emerged as the more proficient team on offense out-scoring Vancouver by a slim 8-7 count.
The Canucks have to be pleased with the way their offense finished the regular season as they tallied a combined 17 goals over their final five outings (an average of 3.40 goals per game) albeit all five of those games happened to come against teams that ultimately finished outside of the playoff picture.
The Kings' offense hasn't been too shabby either for the better part of the last month. In the 13 games for the Kings dating back to March 13, they've scored three-or-more goals in eight of those outings while tallying a combined 39 goals for an average of 3.00 goals per game.
Vancouver's biggest concern on offense to start the series will be whether or not they will have leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin available to them. Sedin has not played since March 21 in Chicago when he was concussed by a cheap-shot elbow from the Blackhawks' Duncan Keith. Sedin happens to be Vancouver's leading point-scorer against the Kings this season notching four points (1-3-4) in three games played.
Daniel's availability would have a trickle-down effect on the entire lineup. Should he play, he is expected to be back on a unit alongside Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows. His spot lately has been filled in by the likes of Maxim Lapierre and Andrew Ebbett.
Los Angeles has their own injury concerns as well involving one of their top offensive stars in Jeff Carter who missed the final five games of the regular season with an ankle injury. The Kings certainly didn't seem to notice Carter's absence much in those five games piling up 16 combined goals without him. With Carter out, Coach Darryl Sutter's top two lines have been Kopitar-Richardson-Brown and Richards-Williams-King. If and when Carter returns, it's likely he'll be slotted right back onto a unit alongside former Flyers teammate Mike Richards.
Both teams also have a number of offensive threats from the back end as well with Vancouver being led by the Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo who have a combined 28 goals this season while Los Angeles will rely primarily on Drew Doughty who had 10 goals this season as well as the likes of rookie Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez who had eight and six tallies, respectively.
Few teams in the entire league were as intimidating on defense as the Kings this season who surrendered just 170 goals this season for an average of 2.07 goals against per game. Only the St. Louis Blues gave up fewer goals this season with 155.
To put those numbers into perspective, last season when the Canucks finished as the top defensive team in the league they gave up 180 goals.
Both teams come into the post-season with a relatively healthy defensive corps, respectively. Vancouver has eight of their top-nine defensemen ready to go for the start of the playoffs with the lone exception being Keith Ballard who continues to recover from a concussion. Ballard, however, has been practicing with the team lately and could be an option when this series opens. Los Angeles has no reported injuries among the seven defensemen they are currently carrying.
The Canucks will likely feed the Kings' top line a steady dose of Dan Hamhuis and, if the final regular season game is any indication, second-year blue-liner Christopher Tanev. The pairing of Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler will also see a fair amount of ice-time albeit the Canucks would like to see them more engaged at the offensive end of the ice as opposed to being a pure shutdown unit. Vancouver's final pairing is likely to consist of Sami Salo and Aaron Rome.
For the Kings, they'll most likely utilize the pairing of ex-Canuck Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov to go up against Vancouver's top offensive unit although the duo of Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi should see the bulk of the ice-time overall. Rounding out the Kings' top-six defense are Alec Martinez and Matt Greene.
If there's an area of both teams' game that they would have liked to enter the playoffs on a much stronger note, it would probably be special teams.
As far as the power play is concerned, the Canucks finished the regular season as one of the top teams with the man-advantage converting at 19.8 percent (57 goals on 288 opportunities) but did have a bit of a stumble to close out the regular season. Prior to their 2-for-7 performance against the Oilers in their final regular season outing, the Canucks managed just one power play goal on 23 opportunities over the six games leading up to their last contest.
The Kings, on the other hand, were middle of the pack in the NHL converting 17.0 percent of their total opportunities (49 goals on 289 opportunities) but were red hot with the man-advantage to close out the season scoring eight goals on 22 chances over their final five games. Six of their seven goals to close out the regular season - all against the San Jose Sharks - came on the power play.
The penalty kill to close out the season for the Kings, however, wasn't so much a positive. Over those same five outings, Los Angeles allowed five power play goals on 19 times shorthanded (73.7 percent kill rate) which is uncharacteristic for the team that finished with the fourth-best penalty killing in the entire NHL (best among all Western Conference teams) killing off 87.0 percent of all opposition man-advantages (38 PPGs allowed on 293 times shorthanded).
The Canucks, whose penalty kill proficiency wasn't far behind that of the Kings' finishing sixth-best in the league killing off 86.0 percent of opposition man-advantages (40 goals allowed on 286 times shorthanded) ended the regular season on a better note.
Vancouver gave up only two power play goals on 20 times shorthanded (90.0 percent kill rate) over their final seven games of the regular season albeit.
As far as the head-to-head season series goes, the teams were fairly evenly matched with the Canucks clicking three times on 18 power play opportunities (16.7 percent conversion rate) while the Kings countered with three power play goals of their own on 16 opportunities (18.8 percent conversion rate).