Plotting A Coup

Beating the defending champs in the playoffs is tough, but here's how it can be done
October 06, 2014

Be physical and chippy

By taking penalties, opponents can turn the game into a battle between special teams, increasing the number of minutes that L.A. uses its best forwards. Why would anyone want to see more of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter, you ask? Because most teams have one or two good lines that are capable of matching the Kings' best forwards. Los Angeles is very balanced—the Kings' third and fourth lines can outplay those of most other teams. Power plays keep their bottom two lines off the ice. Plus, L.A.'s power play was bad last year, ranking 27th in the league (15.1%).

Make Drew Doughty work in his own end

This is counterintuitive because Doughty is one of the most dangerous defensemen in the league when he has the puck. He is also one of the game's biggest hitters, so chasing pucks into the corners when he's on the ice can be perilous. But it can also pay off. He was seventh in the league in minutes played last season, at 25:43 per game. That increased to 28:45 in the playoffs, when he gave away the puck a league-worst 1.62 times per game. Bottom line: He can be forced into making mistakes.

Make goalie Jonathan Quick handle the puck

Quick is an average puckhandler, so dump the puck in and make him chase it. This will require your forwards to use their speed so that the Kings' big defensemen aren't able to help Quick by cutting off the puck. Quick is excellent at scrambling across the crease, but he'll be less effective if he has to scramble just to get back into the crease. Another thing you can do is shoot high. Quick's glove is good, but his feet are better.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)