The Blues are in Los Angeles tonight, and chances are very good that this will not be an easy game, or anything close to that. The Kings have a 19-4-1 record at home, and Jonathan Quick is responsible for 13 of those wins. He has a 1.79 GAA at home to boot. If the Blues want to take a nearly insurmountable 3-0 lead over the Kings, they're going to have to solve Quick. And often.
St. Louis hasn't had problems on the road like the Kings have. While LA was 8-12-4 during the regular season at home, the Blues were 14-9-1. There's really no road disadvantage for the Blues. There's really no clear disadvantage anywhere in this series for the Blues, especially with Brian Elliott continuing to play lights out hockey. I'm sure there's no one in the fanbase now who is questioning Ken Hitchcock for making Elliott the starter.
There're also probably very few people questioning the benching of Vladimir Tarasenko to keep the CPR line together. Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter, and Ryan Reaves have been more than a thorn in LA's side - they've been pure energy for the Blues to draw off of.
When told he out-hit the Cardinals 9-7 last night, Ryan Reaves responded: "Gotta come through in the clutch." #stlblues— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) May 1, 2013
Well played, Mr. Reaves.
Scoring has still been an issue - the Blues couldn't get a shot past Quick until the third period on Thursday night. It's not clear what the major cause of the problem is, but a big component is that Quick is a very excellent goaltender whose regular season numbers aren't indicative of how he can play in the playoffs.
Scoring's been an issue for the Kings, with Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and Drew Doughty held off of the scoresheet so far. Whatever the Blues are doing to make sure that they don't get the puck in the net, it's working. Keep it up, and keep focusing on those guys. If they don't score, the Kings get frustrated, they do stupid things, and the Blues can take advantage of that. If that sounds familiar, it's because the Blues are more than capable of doing the same thing, and they shouldn't.
Tonight the Kings are going to try to get the Blues to lose their cool. It worked for a little bit on Thursday, most notably with Barret Jackman's tripping call (after the play had been blown dead, so it probably could have been called something else). The Blues cannot respond to the Kings' egging them on. You want to get into LA's head? Ignore them.
Except when Dustin Brown tries to fling himself into someone knee and elbow first. Don't ignore that.
The Blues have the momentum in this series, and a win tonight will suck any and all hope out of the KIngs' sails. If the Blues don't take their foot off of the gas, it could be all she wrote for the Kings sooner rather than later.