There isn't an easy 1st round opponent in the West, but personally, I'd rather face LA over SJ or Phx.
It'll likely be a low-scoring series with most games being decided by a goal or two. The Kings have some solid top-end talent, but they have difficulty generating offence from their back-end and their bottom 6 forward group leaves a lot to be desired.
On defence, the advantage clearly goes to Vancouver in terms of overall talent, speed and depth.
We'll hear a lot of talk about Quick being the great equalizer for LA. Granted, he's had a fantastic regular season, is very talented, and can steal a game or two on his own, but the playoffs will be a major challenge for a goalie who has struggled nightly in his 12 playoff games. The concern in Vancouver is Luongo being out-duelled by Quick, and if that happens, Schneider will be ready to come in. Based on Luo's playoff experience and Schneider's ability, I still give the edge in goal to Vancouver, but even if you want to argue that the advantage should go to LA, it's only negligible, and likely not enough to give the Kings a decided advantage.
To get a better idea of what the teams look like top to bottom, here are the projected rosters, lines may change, for game 1.
Sedin Sedin Burrows
Booth Kesler Raymond
Higgins Pahlsson Hansen
Malhotra Lapierre Bitz/Weise
Rome Tanev Ballard-Alberts-Gragnai
Williams Kopitar Brown
Penner Richards Carter
King Stoll Richardson
Frasor Lewis Clifford
The Kings forward group is particularly anemic, considering Malhotra has 1 more point than Penner, both have 7 goals.
If the Canucks 3rd line with Pahlsson is offensively challenged, the Kings 3rd line is an offensive black hole. Higgins, Pahlsson and Hansen have combined for 38 goals this season, LA's 3rd and 4th lines combined have 26 goals. To put into perspective how anemic that production from LA's bottom 6 is, Malhotra, Weise and Lapppy have combined for 21 goals.
As much as I like Kopitar and Brown, they're not as good as the Twins, and I like Carter and Richards, but the 3rd man on that line, Penner, is a liability.
If Doughty's sharp early development would have maintained its pace, he would have been hands down the best defenseman in this series, but Edler is more potent offensively, and Hamhuis is far superior defensively.
Where LA will succeed is collapsing on the net, keeping the opponent to the outside, and forcing shots from the perimeter. The Kings don't block nearly as many shots as the Bruins did in their similar collapse defence that takes away the back-door play to protect Quick's aggressive style.
The key for Vancouver is pretty simple, get traffic in front of the net, cut to the net with the puck and gain position on defender to pounce on rebounds.
Quick goes down in his butterfly pretty early, and he's very good making saves from his knees with those pads, so beating him down low will be difficult, but he gives up rebounds and he can be exploited up high.
It will be tough series in the trenches, the Kings work hard in the dirty areas and they're constantly laying the body.
LA's keys to success will be to prevent the Canucks from getting behind their defence and inside the perimeter. The Kings will try to use their size down low to control the puck and score ugly goals with traffic in front. LA's game plan will be pretty simple without many surprises, but for them it would be the most effective considering they'd get picked apart in transition if they sent an aggressive 2 man forecehck with the 3rd forward crossing the blue-line and aggressive pinches by the defence.
Another key for Vancouver will be scoring first to prevent LA from keeping 4 men behind their side of the red-line.
There are no certainties in the playoffs, but this series should be Vancouver's in 5 games.