LA Punchhhhhh

Game in a Sentence:

The LA Kings won the first game of their series with the Blues with more of the same – tight checking, crashing the net and Jonathan Quick.

Observations:

- This is going to be a very entertaining series after game one. There were moments where it was a war of attrition between the two between the bluelines, but we saw flurries of offense and stellar goaltending at both ends of the rink.

- Jonathan Quick set the tone right off the bat for the Kings as he turned aside an early rush of offence from the Blues. The message was pretty clear: Neither the Kings, nor Quick had any plans for a second round letdown.

- The Blues got off on the right foot and scored first but definitely seemed to be frustrated by their inability to convert against the LA stalwart in goal. What started as hard driving the net shots eventually turned into a willingness to settle for low percentage plays on the outside of the zone.

- Special teams will be a big factor in this series and someone will need to generate a discernible edge there to be successful. Both penalty kills were on display as they combined to go 0/8 on the power play, but neither seemed to have the edge offensively.

- On that note, the Blues cannot afford to be giving up two additional power plays in this game or this series. It will be too close to call some nights and power play goals could easily be the difference between a Conference final berth and a tee time.

- Speaking of penalties, I disagree with the assessment of this hit on Alex Pietrangelo as only a two minute boarding call. It was straight from behind the whole time and busted the guy up. Intent and result are there, so why was it only two minutes?

- I’m going to go on record and say that both of these teams are fully capable of winning the Stanley Cup. Great goaltending in the back, deep defensive corps and the ability to roll four lines are all the hallmarks of championship caliber teams.

- The Kings goal scorers weren’t their top guys which is a bit troubling but still a good sign that they can rely on names you wouldn’t normally see doing all their work for them chipping in on the score sheet.

- Kevin Shattenkirk had a really rough night. I expect him to bounce back strong in game two.

- Brian Elliott was solid for the Blues tonight and got some great shotblocking (23 BKS) in front of him. There are plenty of people out there who are expecting the former Sen/Av to come falling back to earth any time now but I think he’s a guy in a situation that works for him. Between the stellar defensive play of the Blues and his quiet movements in net, I believe he’ll be a tough nut to crack for a while.

- Jonathan Quick is all-world, simple as that. Another one goal game for the Kings stud who continues to not leave a whole lot of room for error across the rink. I fully expect the losing team in the games this series to be sporting a ’0′ or ’1′ in their score column.

- Another note about Quick, I chose the above picture for a reason – namely, I think it’s a good indicator of what makes him a great goaltender. He has a very good grasp of the fundamentals and executes them flawlessly, but you better be prepared to pay the consequences if you mess with him. He reminds me of a Roy Halladay type in baseball. Great pitcher, doesn’t say much, doesn’t do any showboating, but you better can expect some wrath if you jog across his mound in the middle of an inning. That intensity is the difference between a lot of good players and great players. Quick has it.

- I suspect the Blues come back strong and even the series at one in game two, but hey, the way the Kings are playing these days, who knows?

My Three Stars:

1) Jonathan Quick
2) Brian Elliott
3) Dustin Brown