With one round of playoffs completed, many prognosticators are predicting the St. Louis Blues will go all the way. Such a crazy concept considering that in early November the Blues fired head coach Davis Payne and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. What a long strange trip it has been!
The Blues starting line didn’t seem to be very productive in the first round of the playoffs. David Backes, T.J. Oshie and David Perron only contributed two goals. This, however, is why they call it a team sport. When someone is in a slump, it is the job of the rest of the team to step up, and that is exactly what Patrik Berglund, Alexander Steen and Andy McDonald did. The three of them contributed eight combined goals.
The Kings second line did not look too shabby in the series versus the Canucks either. Mike Richards had a goal and two assists, Jeff Carter seems to finally be recovered following his foot injury and Jarrett Stoll had a pair of game winning goals against the Canucks. Watch out.
With the concussion drama hanging over the Blues heads going into the first round of the playoffs versus the San Jose Sharks, their defensemen came out ready to play, or fight as it seemed. Roman Polak made his presence known at the end of Game 2, and as Hitchcock said, “You found out, don’t open the Roman Polak door. Don’t ever open that door.”
When you’re talking Kings playoffs, and defense, you have to talk Drew Doughty. He played a team-high 26:32 per game and took only two minor penalties. He is most definitely a force to be reckoned with on the ice, and the Blues had better be ready for him.
The Blues-Kings goalie match-up is a good one! Brian Elliott will most likely get the start for the Blues in Game 1. Jaroslav Halak is still recovering from his lower-body injury that he received in Game 2 when one of his fellow team mates collided with him. Elliott had an outstanding showing in the first round, stopping 93 of 98 shots.
Who doesn’t love Jonathan Quick? With Quick in goal, the Kings held the Canucks to just eight goals in five games. The Blues had better come ready to play when dealing with Jonathan Quick.
The big advantage that the Blues bring into this series is their power play skills. These power play skills came speeding to the forefront in the first round of the postseason. They scored a goal in four of the five games against San Jose and finished at 33.3-percent (6-for-18). But even more impressive was their penalty killing. The Sharks came into the first round of the playoffs with the second-best power play in the regular season. The Blues annihilated that by stopping nine Shark power plays during the final three games of the series. Very impressive.
Expect this series to be a tight one, and expect these two teams to play all out, ever game. The match up of Elliott and Quick in goal is an exciting one, and both of these teams are hungry to move on to the next round of the playoffs. This should be a great series to watch!