Tonight the #4 seed out west, the St. Louis Blues, will host the #5 Seed Los Angeles Kings. To help us gauge the series and fill in the cracks about the Blues, StLouisGametime.com‘s “Hildymac” jumped over the boards for a shift with us. Make sure to follow them on Twitter at @StLouisGametime.
1. Last season the St. Louis Blues were one of the victims of the Los Angeles Kings during their improbable run to the Stanley Cup. This season they didn’t win a single game during the season series. Why haven’t the Blues been able to solve the Kings?
I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re so evenly matched up. The Blues are used to playing their hard-hitting, defensively tight style against other teams, but when someone uses the same techniques against them, they’re not sure what to do. The Blues can get a little hot-headed sometimes when they get frustrated, and when that happens they don’t stick with their gameplan. I think the Kings know this and can exploit it pretty well.
2. Brian Elliot seems to finally be “the guy” for the Blues right now. He played fantastic this past month. Is he ready to lead this team deep into the playoffs?
I think that he is as long as the Blues continue to play their game. Elliott was sick with an inner ear infection last year, which threw him and the whole team off. If he stays healthy, the Blues are fine. At least they’ll have two starters this year, if Barret Jackman doesn’t run Elliott over.
3. How important will the return of T.J. Oshie be to the Blues lineup?
Very important. Oshie’s a heart and soul player on this team, and he works very hard to create chances and keep an up-tempo pace. The only issue with Oshie’s return is that the 4th line might need to be broken up, and right now Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter, and Adam Cracknell are playing very good hockey.
4. Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester were two really good pickups at the trade deadline. How have they fit in on a young blueline?
They’ve been a great stabilizing force with Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Both Petro and Shattenkirk need the veteran presence to keep them calmed down. Petro was injured last year during the series with the Kings, but both players looked jittery during the playoffs. They didn’t look much better until Leopold and Bouwmeester showed up. With those two skilled guys on the left, Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk should feel a lot more comfortable about playing their game.
5. The Kings and Blues both play a very similar game. Will that hurt or help the Blues chances in this match-up?
Hopefully it’ll help, especially since they’ve gotten familiar with how the Kings play. As long as they don’t break their M.O. due to frustration, they should be fine.
6. Last season was the first taste of the playoffs for this young Blues group. Is playoff experience overrated or will that help this year?
I think it helps. Playing in the post-season isn’t just about playing a high level of hockey. It’s also about motivation, gamesmanship, and knowing how to remain focused. The vets on the team, as well as the young kids who have done this before, should know exactly what to do.
7. Series prediction?
This is going to be a tough one. I’m pretty sure any prediction that I make will be wrong, but I’m hoping for the Blues to finish this one off. I’ll go with the Blues in six.