- Scoring the first goal in a game is always extremely important. First of all, if you score first, that means you won't be shutout which is vital because no team has ever won a game when they were shut out. Also, when you score first, that means the other team has to score at least TWO goals to beat you (unless it's the regular season where you can tie it and then win it in a skills competition). The Canucks opened the scoring more often than any other team in the league, I would guess the Kings are aware of this.
- Stay out of the penalty box. When you receive a penalty, your team has to play with one less player for at least two minutes, unless you get scored upon. If you spend a lot of the game shorthanded, your chances of winning drop dramatically. I don't need to tell you the ugliness of being shorthanded two men. If you want to play loosely with the rules, make sure the refs aren't looking, you know like what happens in the WWE.
- Win as many faceoffs as possible. When you win a faceoff, you have puck control. And when you control the puck, it's nearly impossible to be scored on and you increase your own chance of scoring, which leads to my next key....
- Score as many goals as possible. Don't worry about the team captain talking about being happy winning games 1-0. An offensive player would only say nonsense like that to please his milty defensive-minded head coach. Goals are good because the team that scores the most wins the game, which seems pretty obvious. Another great thing about scoring goals is if you're at home, it excites the crowd. It's good to have an excited, energetic crowd. A library-esk atmosphere, like the one that can be found at the Air Canada Centre 41 times a season, is not ideal for playoff hockey. On the road, goals can take the opposing crowd out of it.
- An often overlooked key is to stay hydrated. If you don't get plenty of fluids, you are susceptible to cramps, even if you're a "backup". If something like this happens, it can dog you for well into the future, as media types will question whether it will happen EVERY time you get a chance to start. Not naming any names...
- Finally, try to win 4 games in the series as quickly as possible. First, when you win the fourth game, that eliminates the opposition, thus getting you closer to the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup. If you can win those 4 games quickly, it may allow the team some valuable rest time. Rest time is vital in the marathon known as the NHL playoffs. Sometimes it's hard to win a series quickly even if it doesn't take you many games, because scheduling conflicts with basketball games and Coldplay concerts could spread the series over an absurd length of time.
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