The greatest show in hockey right now is not Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
It's the Los Angeles Kings' power play, which on its lonesome, is beating the Vancouver Canucks in a Western Conference quarter-final. Game 4 goes on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The Kings have converted seven of 12 opportunities in the NHL playoff series, and have scored at least two man-advantage goals in all three games to date. Los Angeles leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
"We talked about it with our [penalty-killing]group and we expect better tonight," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said.
Though L.A.'s power play has been excellent all series long, it really started sizzling in Game 2 when head coach Terry Murray united defencemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson on the first unit.
They hadn't played together much during the regular season, outside of pulled-goalie situations, when the Kings were desperate for a goal, but have found instant chemistry. Both defencemen have five points.
"We needed to get some better results from the back end," Murray said. "Now we have two guys who we look at as quarterbacks."
Vigneault said the duo is causing his team trouble with its ability to fake and deceive the Canucks penalty killers. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver's main forward when shorthanded, said Doughty and Johnson are moving the puck well, switching sides, and completing back-door passes. They are also getting their point shots on net, which has led to rebound goals.
Johnson said the Kings do not have set plays, but are trying to stay unpredictable and take what the Canucks are presenting to them.
"We think a lot alike," Johnson said. "[But]we don't expect to keep that rate of power play up the whole series."
Doughty said that he and Johnson are now feeding off each other. The latter replaced Jarret Stoll on the first unit, which was "a challenge he has been waiting a year-and-a-half for," according to Murray.
"He's a skilled player who has been in those situations most of his career," the coach said. "It's bringing a pretty focused and energetic player out."
The Kings will make one lineup change for Game 4. Defenceman Peter Harrold (undisclosed injury) will be replaced by Randy Jones, who played in Game 1 before being benched.
The Canucks will also make a move.
Aaron Rome (undisclosed injury) is coming out of the lineup after just one playoff game. He will be replaced by journeyman Nolan Baumgartner, who played in 12 games this season and scored two points.
Vigneault said Baumgartner's ability to move the puck should help his struggling defence corps.Report Typo/Error