Series at a glance: Vancouver-Los Angeles playoff preview

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Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Wednesday April 11 in Vancouver @ 10:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Friday April 13 in Vancouver @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Sunday April 15 in Los Angeles @ 10:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Wednesday April 18 in Los Angeles @ 10 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Sunday April 22 in Vancouver @ TBD (TBD)
*Tuesday April 24 in Los Angeles @ TBD (TBD)
*Thursday April 26 in Vancouver @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Will Roberto Luongo be on a short leash? Luongo will start in Game 1, but what happens if he has a bad night? What if the Canucks lose two playoff games in a row? Backup Cory Schneider had a 1.96 GAA and .937 save percentage in 33 games this season, so he’s more than qualified to take over if Luongo struggles.

2. Are the Kings a better team than they were two years ago? In 2010, the Canucks beat the Kings in six games in their first-round series. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, and goaltender Jonathan Quick made up the core of that 2010 squad and they are all still with Los Angeles and closer to their primes. Los Angeles has also added to their top two lines by acquiring Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, although the latter is day-to-day with an ankle injury.

3. The importance of coming out strong. The Canucks have shown an ability to battle back after they’ve fallen behind and Los Angeles largely hasn’t. The Kings had a 8-22-7 record when they surrendered the first goal of the game, which was the third worst in the NHL and particularly troubling given Vancouver’s propensity for scoring first. The Kings also had the second-worst winning percentage when trailing after either one or two periods. By comparison, the Canucks were the most likely team in the NHL to bounce back if they were trailing after one period.

Records

Vancouver: 51-22-9, 111 points (1st in Northwest; 1st in Western Conference) | Los Angeles: 40-27-15, 95 points (3rd in Pacific; 8th in Western Conference)

Leading scorers

Vancouver: Henrik Sedin (14G-67A-81PTS) | Los Angeles: Anze Kopitar (25G-51A-76PTS)

Starting goalies

Vancouver: Roberto Luongo (31-14-8, 2.41 GAA) | Los Angeles: Jonathan Quick (35-21-13, 1.95 GAA)

Head-to-head

Season series tied at 2-2
Nov. 10: Vancouver 3, at Los Angeles 2
Dec. 31: At Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 1
Jan. 17: Los Angeles 3, at Vancouver 2, SO
March 26: At Vancouver 1, Los Angeles 0

Last 10 games

Vancouver: 8-1-1 | Los Angeles: 5-2-3

Playoff history

Series tied 2-2
1982: Vancouver 4-1 (Smythe Division finals)
1991: Los Angeles 4-2 (Smythe Division semifinals)
1993: Los Angeles 4-2 (Smythe Division finals)
2010: Vancouver 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Vancouver: Def. Chicago 4-3 (Western Conference quarterfinals); def. Nashville 4-2 (Western Conference semifinals); def. San Jose 4-1 (Western Conference finals); lost to Boston 4-3 (Stanley Cup finals) | Los Angeles: Lost to San Jose 4-2 (Western Conference quarterfinals)

Stanley Cups

Vancouver: None | Los Angeles: None

Injuries

Vancouver: Zack Kassian (upper body), Keith Ballard (concussion), Daniel Sedin (concussion), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder), Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder)

Los Angeles: Jeff Carter (ankle), Scott Parse (hip), Kevin Westgarth (hand), Simon Gagne (concussion)

Video: Predators’ Kevin Fiala leaves on stretcher, hospitalized after scary fall

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The crowd in St. Louis was sent to stunned silence at the scary sight of Nashville Predators rookie Kevin Fiala crashing feet-first into boards during the first period of Game 1.

Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he awkwardly hit the boards following a hit by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. An arena announcement indicated that Fiala will be taken to a nearby hospital.

The Predators announced that Fiala is alert and stable in an update.

It’s a cruel twist for the 20-year-old forward, whose high-end speed stands out most when you first see him. A bit longer than a week ago, he scored the biggest goal of his career as he ended Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks with the overtime-clincher. Now one has to wonder about his bigger-picture health.

Members of the Blues and Predators both escorted Fiala off the ice during a stunning moment for all involved.

Colin Wilson: still far more productive in playoffs (Video)

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When you put together a list of “clutch” players, do you put Colin Wilson on it?

Before you laugh that question off – which, really, that’s kind of mean – consider how productive the under-the-radar Nashville Predators forward is during the postseason.

In 33 career playoff games, Wilson had 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points. He’s now at 12 goals and 21 points in 34 games after the first period of Game 1, and there is time to add to those totals.

That’s already pretty solid, but consider his regular season: 12 goals and 35 points in 70 games. He’s only scored 20 goals once in his career.

Yet … for whatever reason, when the games get bigger, the 27-year-old has developed a knack for scoring at a much higher clip. In the case of Game 1 against the Blues – his first game of this postseason thanks to injuries – he deflected P.K. Subban‘s booming shot for the 1-0 goal. Watch it above.

And wonder: is it hasty to consider him clutch?

Video: Erik Karlsson gets Jeremy Roenick’s seal of approval

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Jeremy Roenick is so impressed by Erik Karlsson, he almost likes him as much as Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion does.

As a reminder, Dorion … didn’t exactly go the humble route in his praise of the all-world defenseman. When speaking of Karlsson’s play through ridiculous injuries, he provided quite the quote, as the Ottawa Citizen reports.

“Was I surprised? A bit,” Dorion said. “What do you say? I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this but, you believe in whatever you believe in, and they always say God rested on the seventh day, I think on the eighth day he created Erik Karlsson.”

Surely Karlsson’s critics will love this.

Anyway, Roenick and Keith Jones had some fun with such comments, as you can see in the video above.

For more genius Swedish fun, enjoy the Henrik Lundqvist video above. That’s a bonus, folks.

Babcock, McLellan and Tortorella are 2017’s Jack Adams finalists

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The NHL Broadcasters’ Association named the three finalists for the 2017 Jack Adams Award on Wednesday: Mike Babcock, John Tortorella and Todd McLellan.

The Jack Adams is given to the head coach who “contributed the most to his team’s success.”

It might tickle some to realize that Babcock and McLellan once coached together on the Detroit Red Wings’ staff. All three coaches share the distinction of bringing teams to the playoffs who failed to make the postseason in (at least) the previous season.

The Maple Leafs missed from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Columbus failed in its previous two seasons. And, of course, the Oilers hadn’t seen the playoffs since falling in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

One could make an argument for each coach in a number of ways.

Babcock molded a Maple Leafs team topped by young players, showing a refreshing willingness to take the good with the bad (especially for a guy who’s known for his scowl). McLellan broke that Oilers slump, gradually finding a lineup that could be “more than just Connor McDavid.” The Blue Jackets were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NHL to the point that they’d get Torts fired; instead, they boasted a power play that baffled opponents for much of the season and Tortorella enacted some (gasp) progressive ideas to help Columbus compete.

Now, you could critique all three in different ways – barely making the playoffs, riding hot goaltending, deploying Connor McDavid – but that’s part of the fun, right? There are certainly some cases to be made for snubs (Bruce Boudreau, perhaps even Joel Quenneville?), yet this trio of finalists is strong nonetheless.

The NHL has a more traditional rundown of each coach’s credentials, by the way.