The Vancouver Canucks have already learned a postseason lesson, and it didn't cost them a playoff loss.
The Canucks were keen observers as the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs began Wednesday with upsets galore. The Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes had less playoff experience than their opponents, but emerged with Game 1 victories.
"We saw last night, experience doesn't matter," Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "It's who wants it more."
Vancouver's roster has 635 games of postseason experience, compared to 491 for the Kings. Los Angeles has four Stanley Cup winners to Vancouver's two, but it also has seven regulars who will be making their playoff debut on Thursday, in Game 1 of a Western Conference quarterfinal at GM Place.
"I'm pumped, it's going to be a lot of fun," said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, one of the playoff virgins. "But I'm obviously a little nervous - first playoff game and I don't know what to expect."
Defenceman Aaron Rome (undisclosed injury) is expected to miss the game, but Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said that the team's No. 5 rearguard is "close," and could return for Game 2 on Saturday.
The Kings are at full health, and will start a struggling Jonathan Quick in goal. Quick is also making his playoff debut, alongside top-end teammates such as Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson.
Head coach Terry Murray said that Doughty would play huge minutes and have a major impact on the series. He also expects a lot out of Quick, who is in a head-to-head challenge with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.
"I expect Drew Doughty to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs the way he did for Canada in the Olympics," Murray said. "This is another step in his career."
Veteran Ryan Smyth has told his younger mates to seize the opportunity and create memories, while defenceman Rob Scuderi, who won a Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has instructed them to keep their games simple, at least until the nerves wear off.
"When you see what happened last night, it just reaffirms that anything can happen in the playoffs," Scuderi said. "None of the guys in here who have won [Cups]are really preachy, but if somebody has some questions..."