I often watch the style of play other teams employ in their games, especially during the playoffs. Teams can be compared to each other in so many ways, all of which could likely be placed in a seemingly endless list of attributes. Some teams play a highly physical game, while others rely on finesse. For every style of play, there is an equally opposite method to the on ice madness called hockey. No two
teams play exactly alike, but there are some similarities to be found. In this article, I will feature a comparison between the Lightning and a team currently in the playoffs that has taken everyone by surprise.
The Los Angeles Kings have played 9 games in the playoffs to this point. The number 8 seed has only lost one of these games. A team that everyone doubted would win more than one game against the President’s Trophy Winner Canucks managed to beat Vancouver in 5 games and has swept the 2nd seeded Blues right out of the playoffs. The Blues, a team that convincingly dismantled the San Jose Sharks, struggled to score against the Kings. In fact, the Blues only managed to hold a lead for a little over 7 minutes of the entire series. This is a huge testament to both the defense and offense of the LA Kings during the series. Of course, when a hole in the Kings’ defense was exploited, goalie Jonathan Quick was rather… well, quick, in sealing it off. Of course, with the disappointing season the Lightning endured, it seems hardly possible to compare the team with a playoff team as successful as the Kings thus far. However, I do see similarites.
Defensively, the Lightning have size that is comparable to the Kings. Victor Hedman is listed at 6 foot 6, 229 pounds while the Kings’ biggest Dman is Matt Greene (6 foot 3, 232 pounds). Hedman, although less flashy, can be compared to Drew Doughty. Hedman is the bigger man, but both possess the same offensive talent. Both Dmen move the puck smartly in the offensive zone, and have a heavy shot that can be fired if left open. Offensively, the Kings like to throw as many pucks to the net as possible. When the Lightning are playing at their highest potential, it does not take too long for the puck to end up on the net once it is in the offensive zone. LA possesses some big bodied forwards such as Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar that can create chaos in front of any goalie. Of course, the Lightning have superstar Stamkos.
Stammer may not be as heavy as Brown or Kopitar, but he is one of the strongest players on the puck in the game. Ryan Malone brings a great combination of strength and offense as well, and can easily be compared to Anze Kopitar. Both players hang around the net and are strong on their skates. The Kings can also put secondary scorers like Justin Williams and Mike Richards out on the ice, comparable to Teddy Purcell and Vinny Lecavalier. The one thing the Kings do not have that the Lightning do is a set playmaker. While the Lightning can field Marty St. Louis as the dishmaster (reference to ‘dishing’ out amazing passes), the Kings do it by committee, mostly from Mike Richards and Drew Doughty. Of course, I could go on and on about the similarities between the two teams. It fascinates me how two teams that are so closely related in terms of how they play, can have such a gap in success in a single season. However, the answer is not too hard to find. The Kings have a top tier goaltender, while the Lightning do not. The fact that both teams are so similar in all other areas tells us one thing: the difference for the Lightning is goaltending. Just a second tier goalie could make the Lightning a lock for the playoffs for years to come. Only time will tell.
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