As NHL opening night is upon us, here are the lineups for the two local teams.
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Jason Blake - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Dan Sexton - Todd Marchant - Troy Bodie
Aaron Voros - Kyle Chipchura - George Parros
The Ducks' forward core can be misleading. The Ducks have some fantastic offensive players, of course, but they are top heavy; the top 6 is going to have to carry this team. The Sexton-Marchant-Bodie line is pretty bad and worse, it doesn't have any identity. They can't really score and they can't really stop anyone from scoring. They're just... there. I still think the Ducks would be better off dropping Selanne to the third line and forming a shutdown line revolving around Koivu and Ryan, but as of right now the Ducks are going to have to hope the outscore everyone else.
Lubomir Visnovsky - Toni Lydman
Luca Sbisa - Andy Sutton
Sheldon Brookbank - Paul Mara
This... is not a great defense. The Ducks have a lot of defenseman that can do one aspect of the game really well but no defender that can do everything. Visnovsky is ostensibly the leader of the defense and is a fantastic power player but he can't really be relied on to play the real hard minutes against other teams' top lines. Andy Sutton is a mean player and is a great penalty killer but he takes too many penalties at even strength. The real key to the defense is rookie Luca Sbisa because his skill set is diverse enough that he can play even strength, on the power play and on the penalty kill. Can he play those situations well? That will go a long way in determining how the Ducks do this season.
Hiller's great, McElhinney isn't.
Ryan Smyth - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Brad Richardson - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Michal Handzus - Wayne Simmonds
Kyle Clifford - Brayden Schenn - Kevin Westgarth
Like the Ducks, the Kings are led by their top 2 lines; however, unlike the Ducks, the Kings rely on their top 2 lines to take the lion's share of tough minutes throughout a game. The Ducks try to squeek by with a makeshift shutdown line; the Kings have built their team around their shutdown line. The Kings' biggest weakness is the Richardson-Stoll-Williams line because, while they are all defensively responsible, the Kings need more scoring from the line since they're playing easy minutes. The Kings will likely trade for a left winger for that 2nd line spot during the season. The 4th line is likely to change drastically over the season, but for right now the Kings are going to give 2 19 year-olds a shot alongside the enforcer Kevin Westgarth. Should be fun to watch.
Willie Mitchell - Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Jake Muzzin - Davis Drewiske
Last season the Kings were 3rd in the league in shots allowed per game and that was with an aging Sean O'Donnell and an overwhelmed Randy Jones logging heavy minutes. This season the Kings have replaced those bodies with Willie Mitchell and rookie Jake Muzzin. Drew Doughty is one of the best defensemen in hockey and will lead the team in all situations. The Kings have a nice mix of offensive defensemen (Doughty, Johnson, Muzzin) and defensive stalwarts (Mitchell, Scuderi). The Kings are missing a big part of their defense in Matt Greene, who is out with a bum shoulder. When Greene returns, the Kings should boast one of the top defenses in the NHL.
Like I said earlier in the week, Quick and Bernier will battle for the starting goaltender job for the next 3 seasons. Quick is more dynamic while Bernier is more positionally sound; Quick is calmer while Bernier has dealt with bouts of petulance over the years. Quick will begin the season at #1 but could quickly find himself on the bench if he falters at all. The only thing you can guarantee: the Kings will have fairly good goaltending from... someone.