This is going to be a series that comes down to two major elements. The first is going to be the harder to gauge, and that’s coaching. On one side you have the seeming Jack Adams Award winner behind the Blues bench, on the other you have the guy who took an undermanned often dinged up squad and let them to within a win of the division title despite a woeful lack of scoring ability. How these coaches peel through each others systems will be monumental. Ice time, matchups and well timed tantrums will be needed to win this series.
The second element will be on display from puck drop of game one right through to the end of the series. Heart, or will to win. The LA Kings came off a win against arch rivals the Vancouver Canucks where they stuffed a highly potent offense into a locker filled with old jock straps and three year old lunches. They know what good offense looks like, they know how to break it’s spirit. They haven’t been to the second round in a long time and you have to wonder if there will be any let down for them.
The St Louis Blues got to the second dance of the playoffs simply by being a better team. They have also spent the bulk of the year, and certainly the first round with the best goaltending at hand. That may not be true in this round. Quick has to be the considered the front runner for the starting job in the Russian Olympics and has put together a simply phenomenal campaign this season. The regular season tale of the tape also gives the nod in special teams to the LA Kings in both categories. What they do have is more offensive depth, if with less bonafied offensive studs.
Leaving off the goaltenders who shouldn’t have to be mentioned or even introduced, the key players for each side will need to stand up and be counted. For the Blues, Andy McDonald will need to continue his first round wizardry, Norris nomination snub Alex Pietrangelo will need to be the best defensemen on either team. The LA Kings will need bigger contributions from Jeff Carter up front and Rob Scuderi will need to recapture the magic he had in the Pittsburgh Penguins run to the Cup a few years back and hope he can share some with Drew Doughty. If ever there was a series with the potential to go seven games with seven goals, this could be it. Don’t for a second believe that if that happens it won’t still be one hard hitting, close checking, series with spectacular saves happening every other shift.