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First off, I've completely stolen the format of this playoff preview from fellow Bloguin blogger Jibblescribbits. Instead of a normal preview breaking down the forwards and defense of the teams, he went with addressing questions that he felt were important to the series and well I like his idea so here is your Canucks vs. Kings playoff preview.

The Canucks have been 3-1-0 against the Kings this season. Their loss was the most recent game played between the two, where the Canucks lost 8-3. As I had said previously, the Kings were my team of choice of who the Canucks would face in the first round. With the travel between the two cities being just an hour of flight time and with no time change, this was the best match up for the Canucks based on team location alone. And the lack of time change is also good for the fans as all the games start at 7pm PST.

For your Kings centric look, check out The Royal Half, Rudy Kelly's series preview at Battle of California or View From My Seat's series preview

So let's look at what I think is the only aspect important to this series:

Goaltending

For both teams there is a question about the goaltending and this may be what the series comes down to. Neither goaltender looked good coming down the stretch and nothing else matters if they aren't playing at least reasonably. In LA Quick won the starting position as goalie from Ersberg and played 72 games for the team this year. In the last 10 games that Quick started he has lost six (three of which were in the shootout), got pulled in two and won two. He was a workhorse through the season and looks like he may have been overworked. The Kings did bring up Jonathan Bernier from the AHL at the end of the season for a few games to give Quick some rest but he has since been sent back down. The Kings have Erik Ersberg as their back up for Quick but with some good performances from Jonathan Bernier, could they call him up instead if Quick crumbles?

Luongo, well we know what he has looked like recently. That 8-3 loss against the Kings on April 1st, albeit with a really bad defence performance and no Daniel Sedin, was a terrible performance from the netminder. He was never pulled in the game and was in net for all 8 goals and maybe that was a good thing. After being shamed by letting in 8 goals, Luongo will want to prove that he can come back from that embarassment.

The rest of the stats to compare between the two teams, like power play % (Canucks 20.9 v. Kings 20.8) or penalty kill % (Canucks 81.6 v. Kings 80.3) are eerily the same between the two teams. The Canucks do have the edge in goals scored per game with 3.27 v. the Kings' 2.82.

The rest of the preview after the jump...

The Keys to the Series: Canucks

Assuming that the defence has recovered enough to play well, the Canucks need to come out with lots of offense and pepper Quick with lots of shots. Like Luongo, he's really the question mark to whether the Kings have a chance of winning the series.If Luongo can have a solid series, he's doesn't even need to be spectacular, just cover up the pucks, the Canucks should be able to win the series.

The defence needs to cut down on the many mistakes that they made in the last few weeks. Without Willie Mitchell in the playoffs they are relying on Salo and Edler to shut down the Kings' top lines. They will also be counting on O'Brien, Alberts and Rome not to make dumb mistakes. And since you can apply that statement to Edler and Bieksa too, might as well just say everyone not named Salo and Ehrhoff needs to cut down on making dumb mistakes.

The Canucks need to have not just the top line come out strong, but whoever is on the 2nd line needs to be able to make things happen if the Sedins get shut down.

The Keys to the Series: Kings

The Kings will just need to shoot pucks on Luongo, if he's shaky he could break down and lose the series without the Kings even having to worry about the Canucks' forwards or defence.

Speaking of defence, they were making some really sloppy decisions with the puck coming down the stretch. They won't have their shutdown defenceman Willie Mitchell, so if the Kings can try to force the D the Canuck have to make more bad decisions they'll be able to get a lot more chances to put the puck past Luongo. And for the Canucks, it's still questionable how healthy all of the defence really is.

As for offense, Kings coach Terry Murray will want to try to contain the top line with Sedins and Burr with either Doughty and Scuderi on them.

Links for some reading:

Alix of the Canucks Hockey Blog predicts the Canucks in 5

TSN's Bob McKenzie has picked the Kings to win in 6 (easy there, he did say that he wanted Henrik to get the Hart)

The Kurtenblog picks the Canucks in 7

In The Province: Salo wears a surgical mask (as a joke) and Vigneault tells the media 'We do sex every day'

Nucks Misconduct has a neat Google Map of Canuck transplants around the world

Conan O'Brien wears a Shane O'Brien #55 Canucks t-shirt

A few 'stories' about why Sami Salo didn't play the last game of the season, but he says he'll be "110%"

The Vancouver Sun asks "why not?" this year?

And for something light, check out Real Fake Sports' post 'Gary Bettman' Pleased NHL Playoffs Met With Relative Indifference