It's time. Shit just got real. Not only are the Blues in the playoffs, but they're matched up against the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings. The Kings treated the Blues as but a speedbump on their way to the Cup last year, sweeping St. Louis in four games.
The Blues are a different team this year. Their defense is stronger, Chris Stewart is actually awake and productive, and Brian Elliott doesn't have an inner ear infection. This won't be an easy series for the Kings. Of course, it also won't be an easy series for the Blues, either -- these two teams are so well matched that you can expect low scoring, hard hitting games every single night.
Brian Elliott is the Blues' go-to starter, and Jonathan Quick is the Kings'. Elliott went 11-2-0 in April, setting the NHL's wins record for the month. He wound up with a 1.28 GAA and a .948 save percentage down the stretch. Quick had a 6-3-1 April record with a 2.25 GAA and a .917 SV%. Depending on if the goalies maintain their play or not, the Blues have the clear advantage. Overall Ells still has the advantage, with a 2.28 GAA and a .907 save percentage, and Quick having a 2.45 GAA and .902 save percentage.
Barret Jackman should be back tonight paired up with Roman Polak, and T.J. Oshie will be back as well. For those of you who was wondering where Oshie will go, wonder no more. He'll be taking Vladimir Tarasenko's place, and the rookie will sit out his first playoff game. As Jeremy Rutherford points out, that gives the Blues' fourth line a huge vote of confidence.
"You're all talking about our fourth line being our fourth line, but they're more than our fourth line ... they score," Hitchcock said. "The fourth line as an energy line, those days are gone. The hockey is too good. Your fourth line needs to contribute and, boy, ours has come through in spades. They've pressured on the forecheck, they've played against top-six forwards.
"You've got effectively two scoring players (Porter and Cracknell) that play there, two players that really light it up in the American Hockey League. But they've learned to play a different game up here. When you give guys like Cracknell and Porter a chance, they score. And I think Revo has even caught on to that. The banging around lines aren't effective anymore. But this is a very good line, which can play against top lines, which makes us more effective."
Also, they add sandpaper, which you can't have enough of against these guys.
Don't forget to stop by Jewels From The Crown and Battle of California to say hi and fuck off, but in a cordial way. BoC is counting. They have their eye on our fuck crown, and no way is that being taken away from Game Time, even with me at the helm, who doesn't write the word fuck much. I do, however, say it.
I hope the Blues don't make me say it tonight.