Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks reacts after getting hit with a high stick by teammate Dan Hamhuis #2 while checking Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in NHL action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings have top talent and split the regular season series with the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver won the Presidents' Trophy from a weak division. Can the Kings finally pull their talent together for a huge upset?
The Vancouver Canucks are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and the winners of the Presidents' Trophy, aided spectacularly by their terrible division. The Southeast may be a joke and may have no teams with a positive goal differential, but at least two of their teams made the playoffs. The same cannot be said about the Northwest, so it's tough to say exactly how good the Canucks are, and how big of favorites they are against the Los Angeles Kings.
Vancouver won the West last season and got to Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals, where they played so poorly that a riot broke out. Still, a Presidents' Trophy team coming off of a Game 7 loss in the finals should be a very, very heavy favorite to run riot through their conference. However, the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows are producing at a lower offensive clip than last season. For some reason, this team doesn't feel like they're as good as last year's.
The good news for them is that, for all their talent, the Kings have struggled to get their act together most of the season. They split their season series with the Canucks and did enough down the stretch to make the playoffs, but they don't look like a spectacular team.
Anze Kopitar had a solid year, while Jonathan Quick exceeded expectations. Justin Williams and Dustin Brown were consistent performers. Those four players did their parts, but Drew Doughty and Mike Richards absolutely failed to meet expectations this season. Both players had their worst season since their rookie years.
The Kings have the talent to match up with anyone, but they're the eighth seed in the playoffs for a reason. They've underperformed all year. Vancouver should be fairly heavy favorites at home in Game 1, but if the Kings are able to get a split in British Columbia, this will become an extremely interesting series.
No. 8 Los Angeles Kings at No. 1 Vancouver Canucks
10:30 p.m. ET -- Game 1, Western Conference Quarterfinals | Series tied, 0-0
National TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS | Local TV: KCOP 13
For more on the Kings, check out Los Angeles Kings blog Jewels From The Crown and SB Nation LA. For more on the Canucks, head over to Vancouver Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct. We'll have coverage of every playoff series at SB Nation's NHL Hub.