For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, NHL.com has enlisted the help of former NHL coach Perry Pearn to break down the action. Pearn will be checking in throughout the series.
Pearn has spent the past 18 seasons as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and a second tenure with the Jets in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
LOS ANGELES -- From one California rival to another, the Los Angeles Kings face a stern test in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
When the Kings meet the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series, they will face an opponent similar to the San Jose Sharks, whom they defeated in seven games in the first round. The series starts Saturday at Honda Center (8:00 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I think it's going to be a really good series," Pearn said. "I think they match up well, but in different ways. I think the big challenge is going to be L.A.'s ability to keep pucks out of the net vs. Anaheim's ability to score goals. You have to give Anaheim credit, because they had a good season defensively as well, but certainly L.A's strength is their goaltending, and they don't give up a lot. That was the secret of winning the series against San Jose."
The marquee duel in this series could be between the top two centers. Ryan Getzlaf is a Hart Trophy finalist and led the Anaheim Ducks in scoring this season. He's also up for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar is a Selke Trophy finalist. Kopitar had four goals and 10 points in the first round, and Getzlaf had three goals and seven points despite missing one game and being injured in another.
"To me, the matchup I'm watching for is how Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry are handled by L.A., and vice versa, how Getzlaf and Perry handle what L.A. is going to throw at them from a defensive standpoint," Pearn said. "When you sit down and look at Anaheim, the difference between the top two guys and the next group is fairly significant."
Los Angeles faced elite centers in the last round with Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski (at times) lining up down the middle. Kopitar's line faced Couture's trio extensively, and Couture was held without a point in the final four games.
Mike Richards spent plenty of time facing off against Thornton's line, leaving Jarret Stoll and the Kings' third line to face Pavelski when he played center. There will be plenty of focus on who plays against Getlzaf and Perry for the Kings and how Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau tries to manage that.
"It is interesting as far as the matchup is concerned," Pearn said. "I think you have to say if you're Anaheim that we have to count on our big guys, and you can lose the flow of the game sometimes if you're too worried about matchups. I think you have to let it go and see where it's going before you get too committed to matchups. I think if I was L.A. I'd be more concerned with who plays against Getzlaf and Perry, and the reaction will probably come from the Anaheim side. The Kings may have a preference already based on the history of the two teams, and they may push for that matchup.
"You can throw Getzlaf out with the fourth line a little bit or maybe do what the Sharks did with Pavelski a little bit. But in the end, history tells us that those two play their best when playing together. Because those two feed off each other, breaking them up would get Bruce what he wants. My thinking would be I want them together as much as possible because of that chemistry."