Four Ducks, One Puck, and Jaden Schwartz is right in the middle of things. Keep at it, kid.
Our Blues certainly got a rude awakening last night. Uncharacteristically, they gave up the lead three times, when before they had been very reliable with a lead. But, this is what the boys need to learn to expect; the road isn't going to get easier to travel at the end of the season. Rather, it's going to get harder and harder. If last night's scenario wasn't proof enough, tonight's should drive the point home. Where Anaheim is already out of the playoff picture, the Kings are right in the thick of things. Currently, the Kings are in the 8th spot, but are only one point behind the division-leading Stars. If the Kings win tonight, they vault from the playoff bubble to home-ice advantage as a 3rd seed. The importance of these points mean that every team the Blues face from here on out will be motivated to the max. They will be gunning for the Blues, and be at their most dangerous. The Blues will need to match that intensity for the full 60 minutes.
The Enemy: The LA Kings were the preseason pick for a lot of experts to be the team to challenge for the Cup out of the West. Instead of living up to that, they stumbled out of the gate, and had a coaching change in December. Side note, how ironic that it's the Midwest setting the trend for the West Coast to copy later (Ducks, Kings). Now, though, since the coaching change and the trade deadline (picking up Jeff Carter in exchange for Jack Johnson) they've turned things around. The Kings have been one of the best teams in the league since the trade deadline reunited Carter with Mike Richards (LEADERSHIP!). The Kings are on a 5-game winning streak and have gone 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.
Their offense is really clicking right now. Tops in both goals and points overall is Anze Kopitar (24G /41A), and he is followed by Justin Williams (18G /34A) and Dustin Brown (19G /28A). In the 12 games since joining the team, Carter has 9 points. Not only is the O a threat, but the goaltending can carry the load as well. Starter Jonathan Quick has had a terrific season with a 2.00 GAA and .930 SV%. and can steal a game at any time. He's backed up by Jonathan Bernier (2.33 GAA and .910 SV%), who is very capable. I'd expect to see Quick in goal tonight.
Final Verse: The puck drops at 9:30 PM St Louis time. The GDT should be along shortly beforehand. The broadcasts are on the usual outlets; Fox Sports MW for TV, and KMOX 1120 AM for the radio call. Until then, this is your pregame warmup. Wake up from your pregame nap, shake the cobwebs out, and get ready for another late one. Back-to-Backs on the west coast are the worst. How long can Jaden Schwartz maintain the Goal-per-game pace? Discuss below. In the meantime, here's another selection from tonight's band, celebrating a locale not far from the Staples Center.
Weezer - Beverly Hills (via WeezerVEVO)