Kings must mind the gap

Even without star Daniel Sedin in the lineup, it’s no secret that the Vancouver Canucks are a dangerous team in all three zones. The two ends of the ice command the most attention, but against the Canucks, the most important area might be in the middle of the ice. When the Kings are at their best, they are able to move the puck through the neutral zone with sharp passes and with support. When they’re not sharp, they turn over pucks and get caught chasing the game. Vancouver is one of those teams that will, very quickly, turn those mistakes into goals. Willie Mitchell was asked about the importance of maintaining proper separation, which becomes particularly important against a team such as Vancouver, which has scored 229 goals, just one fewer than conference-leading Chicago and Detroit.

MITCHELL: “I think that when any team gets into trouble, they get into trouble when there’s separation. Separation means, when you’re seeing five guys in the picture all the time, on TV, it means there’s good support on the offensive side, and the same thing defensively. The neutral zone is tight, with how teams play it, so you have to pick your way through it, having really good support with a group of five. Defensively, it’s the same thing. If I’m up on a guy, we need a forward coming through, supporting in the middle, and I need support from my D partner. It’s all those things, just supporting the puck really, really well with groups of five. That’s the number-one thing.’’

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