Stop me if you've heard this before.
Young team that has a lot of players with unrealized potential and high draft picks enters the season with a strong resume on defense and goaltending but issues with scoring. The team starts the season slowly, the head coach gets fired. A new, veteran coach with previous NHL head coaching experience comes in, preaches responsible decision making and the team responds, goes on to qualify for the playoffs. That's the story for your 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings.
While there are a bunch of parallels between the Blues and Kings this season, how each team has put finishing touches on the roster is the biggest difference. The Kings lost the last game of the season clinching the eighth playoff spot. The Blues lost to Columbus when they clinched the Central Division.
The Kings traded for Mike Richards. They traded for Jeff Carter. The signed Simon Gagne. The Blues built mostly from within. Their free agent signings were Brian Elliott (to a one-year, two-way contract), Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner (both looking for a last shot or two at the playoffs at the end of their careers).
A few bullets for good measure.
- The Kings earned a few more points than the Blues on the road this year thanks to taking more games to overtime and grabbing the charity point. The Blues had eight more wins at home than Los Angeles.
- In goals allowed per game, the Blues were No. 1 in the NHL at 1.89. The Kings were No. 2 at 2.07 allowed per game. St. Louis was 21st in the league in goals scored. Los Angeles was 29th.
- Neither team has a bunch of playoff experience or success as a group. There are some individual players who have gone deep in the playoffs, but we're looking at two franchises that have never won championships. Ever.
- For any Kings fans who drop by, no Geoff Courtnall is not still on the Blues. He famously started a brawl by running into a Kings goaltender, turtled when a Kings player wanted to fight him, drew a five minute major for fighting against the Kings and the Blues scored something like a half dozen goals on the ensuing power play. My facts might be a little exagerated, but I know it's something close to that. And Kings fans remember. Right Kings fans?
This could be a tight, defensive, low-scoring series. It might be something the Blues are specifically designed to play. You got an preliminary thoughts? Give 'em in the comments.