With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.
4) St. Louis Blues vs. 5) Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head in 2013: 3-0 Kings
A stat: Over their last nine meetings, the Kings have won…all of them.
Goal differentials: Los Angeles: +15, St. Louis: +14
Shots-per-game: Kings: 29.8 (12th), Blues: 27.8 (23rd)
Shots-against-per-game: Kings: 25.0 (3rd), Blues: 24.2 (2nd)
LAK: Jonathan Quick, .902 save percentage, 2.45 goals-against-average
STL: Brian Elliot, .907 save percentage, 2.28 goals-against-average
LAK: Anze Kopitar, 42 points in 47 games
STL: Chris Stewart, 36 points in 48 games
Reason to watch: You could very well be watching the first round of the eventual Cup champion. Both teams give up remarkably few shots per game, and have goalies capable of getting crazy hot.
Lately: Kings: 5-3-2, Blues, 7-3-0
Kings: Mike Richards (illness – he’ll be fine), Matt Greene (undisclosed, so who knows)
Blues: TJ Oshie (foot – should play in opener, which is huge for STL), Barret Jackman (ankle – will play), Scott Nichol (lower body – out indefinitely).
News: Jay Bouwmeester gets to play in the post-season for the first time in his NHL career. Neato.
First game: Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. EST
Flippant barstool opinion: This could be the worst series to actually watch between two good teams ever. De-fense, clap, clap.
This series is going to come down to who gets lucky, who stays healthy, and/or who gets on a roll. You can’t always predict when the latter is coming, but sometimes a group just starts feeling good at the same time. Otherwise they’re pretty evenly matched, and I can see tip-ins, rebounds and lucky bounces affecting the outcome. That means if I’m coaching, I’m all over my guys to get to the opposition’s net, and to keep them away from ours.
Prediction: Kings in seven. I’d have picked less games based on the Kings top-end talent, but TJ Oshie’s return has me hesitant.
Your NHL.com preview: