Why is this man smiling? (That is a smile, right? I mean, I think it is.) His team is the favorite in the second round. Just ask the coach of his opponent.
Now that we're down to four teams on this side of the league, it's time to reshuffle the playoff teams and see where we stand. In my estimation, the Kings are on the top of the deck.
Oh sure, they were the No. 8 seed going into the playoffs. That was weeks ago. Sure they just barely made it into the postseason. Irrelevant. Ken Hitchcock thinks that. I do too. Here's his reasoning as reported by our good friend Norm Sanders from the Belleville News-Democrat:
"When you beat the Presidents Trophy winner, you become the No. 1 seed and I think everybody knows that," said Hitchcock, whose second-seeded Blues will enjoy home-ice advantage for the series. "Obviously when you beat the Presidents Trophy winner, that's very significant. To win it in five games gets the whole world's attention.
"We all know how good they are and how strong of a team they've got."
Don't think that Hitchcock is trying to paint the Kings as the favorite in this series. Because he doesn't have to. This isn't some shrewd coaching move. He's just falling into line with the normal thinking of hockey pundits in Canada and the Eastern United States.
When looking at playoff teams, most astute observers of the National Hockey League use one tried and true measuring stick: Pedigree. Which team has the tradition? Which team has won more in the past? Which team was an Original Six member? Which team draws higher ratings? Which team is from Detroit? And after carefully answering all those questions, they make predictions. Let's go to the important scoreboard:
CAREER STANLEY CUP FINAL GAMES WON
There you have it, Blues fans. St. Louis has an uphill battle to climb because history is on L.A.'s side. Now normally we'd trot out the number of actual Stanley Cups each team has won. But as you probably have guessed by the combined number of Final games won...that's zero for each of them.
So we're stuck using this scoreboard. None others can help us. Three of the four teams are tied on the HAD GRETZKY INVOLVED WITH THE TEAM scoreboard and they're all tied on the FANS OF ELIMINATED TEAMS ARE GOING TO CALL THIS THE PLAYOFFS OF BORING HOCKEY scoreboard. And that's all the scoreboards I can name right now.
Look, a coach is going to say whatever he thinks will get his team's attention. If he thinks his young players are going to freak out at being the best seed left in the playoffs, he's going to attempt to reverse the roles. I bet every guy on the Blues knows the Kings won the season series 3-1-0 even though Hitchcock and whichever Sutter brother that's coaching the Kings now weren't even both there during the first two games. That's how these guys work.
Of course, that's not all L.A. has going for it.
Top 11 Things L.A. Has More Of Than St. Louis
11. Fake breasts
9. Governors who played kick ass killing robots sent back from the future
7. Male hairdressers
6. All-Star NBA guards accused of rape
5. Police chases
4. Crack whores (but we're gaining!)
3. Teams that wear purple (past or present)
Any more to add to the list? Any other reasons the Blues are the underdog this round? Let us know down below.