The St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings will meet at the Scottrade Center for the start of round 2. The Blues and Kings both eliminated their previous opponents in 5 games with their goalies and defense taking much of the highlights. However, the Kings were able to knock off the 1st place Vancouver Canucks. Brian Elliot and Jonathan Quick have been tremendous, but it is the style that both coaches use to get the wins. Ken Hitchcock and Darryl Sutter play similar defensive games that worked throughout the season and in the playoffs.
Offense: The Blues offense was mostly carried by the 2nd line of Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, and Patrik Berglund. These three players came together and instantly had chemistry making them too much to handle for the San Jose Sharks. The Blues managed to score goals without much help from the top line of David Backes, TJ Oshie, and David Perron which shows how much depth the Blues are rolling with. On the other side, the Kings are getting the most production from their first line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams. Even when that line doesn’t score, they are followed by Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Penner. The Kings 4th line has also been a force in the offensive zone wearing out the other teams D and getting shots on goal. Chris Stewart and Dustin Penner both have the abilities to contribute in big ways. If one of these players gets hot at the right time, it could create a huge advantage for one team
Advantage: I would have to give this one to the Blues. The Blues top line does a much better job in the shutdown role (as they proved against the Sharks), and if I had to pick a teams second line I would have to go with the Blues. Their second line has been clutch and right now have been better than the Kings #2 line. I also like the veteran players of Arnott, Langenbrunner, and Sobotka on the bottom 6 for the Blues.
Defense: Alex Pietrangelo has had a breakout season and continue this play into the playoffs with 3 points and a +3 in 5 games. His partner, Carlo Colaiacovo also has 3 points and is a +3 as well, but in 4 games. These 2 have come together to create a great top pairing. Kevin Shattenkirk has been relatively quiet and other guys like Barrett Jackman and Roman Polak have had an average series going -2 and -1. The Kings defense has been consistent through all three pairings. Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty have been excellent on the top pairing, but what makes the difference is that Willie Mitchell, Alec Martinez, and Matt Greene can all be counted on at times.
Adavantage: The Kings proved in the first round that their D may be the most consistent. While the Blues D can be just as good or better, they just didn’t play as shutdown as the Kings defense did, especially against the high scoring Canucks team.
Goalies: CLICK HERE TO VIEW MY GOALIE BLOG OF ELLIOT VS. QUICK. (these 2 deserve their own blog).
Advantage: Even though Elliot has been great, Quick has just seemed to be a little sharper. He seemed to make better saves, but also has a little more experience. Even though these two goalies skill levels are similar, Quick just barely edges out Elliot.
Special Teams: The Blues went 6 for 18. The Kings went 3 for 26… Just a little bit of the difference. The biggest factor is that the Blues role with 2 PP units that are just as good as each other.
Advantage: The Blues hands down. Their power play is consistent and even when they do not score, they keep the pressure. Having 2 power play lines that are just as good may overwhelm the Kings penalty killers. Even though the Kings had a couple shorties, it will be much tougher to do that against a teams power play who has just caught fire.
MY PREDICTION: Even though each team plays similar styles of hockey, the difference will come down to special teams. The Blues will take the series if they can continue to score on the power play. In a possible low scoring series, that 1 power play goal may be all that’s needed to win a game. Elliot and Quick will be great and the both defenses will help out. The Blues seem to have that scoring touch that the Kings have lacked at times. Blues in 6 games