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Flames vs. Kings: 5 Questions

The Kings are going to the playoffs! The Flames are not. We catch up with langluy at Jewels from the Crown ahead of these two teams' final meeting of the season.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1. Trevor Lewis just signed an extension with the Kings yesterday. Where does he fit in for LA in the next couple of years?

First of all, I feel it is important to remind you that USA Hockey invited Trevor Lewis to its Olympic camp last summer, which pretty much proves that USA Hockey has zero idea what it is doing, ever. Lewis is a solid depth forward, but will never be anything more due to his complete inability to finish (his shooting percentage is 4.3 per cent, less than half the league average). He's primarily known for his defensive play, and he continues to be a solid contributor on the penalty kill, but his numbers at even strength have not been as great this season. With Linden Vey likely becoming a lineup regular at some point next season, Lewis will probably slot in at RW4 for the duration of this contract, which makes the $1.5-ish million price tag a bit steep.

2. What are the weaknesses Calgary might exploit to steal a win tonight?

Drew Doughty's not playing, so that's good for the Flames. Robyn Regehr also isn't playing, so that's less good for the Flames. The whole Kings lineup is in a bit of a shuffle as they try to rest marginally injured players and gear up for the playoffs, so I'm not sure they'll be exerting maximal effort tonight. Plus it's not like the Kings have a recent history of giving up last-minute game-winners to the Flames or anything.

3. Will Anze Kopitar win the Selke?

The fact of Patrice Bergeron winning is fine, because he's clearly an exceptional two-way player (as Robert wrote at JftC earlier, Bergeron and Kopitar are basically in their own category as the league's elite). But while NHL awards don't matter, it's still frustrating to watch Kopitar and to know that that the PHWA will probably never acknowledge how good he is. During the 2012 playoffs, TSN wrote an article about how he was "emerging from obscurity" and I almost cried. Last season, he got as many first-place Selke votes as Jay McClement and Pascal Dupuis so...

4. It's looking like the Kings might meet the Sharks in the playoffs. How does that series look? Who comes out on top?

Aaaaaaargh this is the series of my nightmares. Basically every recent Kings-Sharks game has been incredibly close, both in terms of score and in terms of possession statistics. Last year's seven game series was incredibly stressful, and I don't want to talk about this anymore :(

(Kings win, OBVIOUSLY.)

5. Heading into the playoffs, what are the Kings' biggest strengths? What should other playoff teams be looking out for?

The addition of Marian Gaborik and the call-ups of Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson have provided the Kings with deeper, more balanced forward lines. Not only are they scoring more, but pushing bottom six players back into the bottom six means that offensive expectations are back where they should be, people aren't trying to play above their heads, and so they've also improved defensively as well. I think Doughty-Muzzin is up there in terms of the best defensive pairings in the west, and I think the defensive depth is still good. To be frank, at even strength, I don't worry about the Kings. But they take penalties at an alarming rate (and draw them fairly frequently too, I think) and their special teams have been mediocre all season long. Special teams have definitely lost them some games during the season, and could hurt them pretty badly in the playoffs if they don't remain disciplined.

Big thanks to @langluy for the terrific answers as usual—check out Jewels From The Crown for more tasty Kings coverage. Puck drop is at 8 PM MT tonight!