The last time the Blues and Los Angeles Kings met, on March 22, the score was 0-0 through overtime and had to be decided in a shootout.
What the upcoming Blues-Los Angeles Western Conference semifinal series might lack in scoring, [...] the teams will make up in physicality. In [the season series], there were [...] 231 hits, with the Kings holding a slight edge (121-110).
“LA plays nasty … they play real nasty,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “To a man, they play with an edge. They follow the coach’s orders and they finish all their checks. They don’t swing away on anything. They play with a level of commitment to physical play that’s going to be a challenge for any team. So we’re first up.”
[...] ”I think the more physical team is going to win,” Blues forward T.J. Oshie said. “Whoever plays the most physical the longest is going to get the job done.”
Backes said[,] “(LA) played hard [in round one] every shift and they’ve got four lines that are willing to invest in the game. [...] [They're] in your zone and on your defense and make you make plays before you want to. [That creates] mistakes and offensive turnovers and transition. We just need to [...] get through their checking and know that you’re going to get hit. [...][You've] got to keep going and not retaliate.
[...] “[When] they’re making a push and hitting us we’ve got to fight through that, concentrate on [...] winning the game and the score, not necessarily the chess battle and who’s tougher and who’s stronger at the moment. [...]”
Like the Blues, however, LA is more than just a physical team. The clubs finished Nos. 1-2 in the NHL in goals-against average during the regular season, with the Blues (1.89) edging the Kings (2.07). They are tied for the best GAA in the playoffs (1.60).
In three regular-season appearances, LA goalie Jonathan Quick had two shutouts against the Blues, allowing one goal on 95 shots for 0.33 GAA and .989 save percentage.
“He’s very good [...]” said Blues forward Patrik Berglund [...]. “We’re going to [have to] be in the way, so he can’t see the puck.”
Brian Elliott, who is 3-0 in the playoffs, will stay in net for the Blues. [...] Elliott’s numbers against LA are as eye-popping as Quick’s. In two appearances, he was 0-0-1 with a 0.71 GAA and .977 save percentage.
[...] Hitchcock pointed out that the Blues might have a slight advantage in that they have a few new names in their lineup. Andy McDonald [...] has not faced the Kings this season because of his concussion. David Perron and Alex Steen, for the same reason, have played in only two of the games.
“We’ve got a team that they’ve never seen before,” Hitchcock said. “They have three lines exactly the same and we have all four different than the one that played (March 22), so I don’t think they really know our hockey club until they play against us.[...]
“Someone tweeted that it’s going to be the first game that’s 0 to minus-1 … that’s pretty creative,” Backes said. “We like those types of games, that’s our style. (But) we’ve got to be prepared. They took out the No. 1 seed and they’ve definitely got the firepower to keep on trucking in this thing.”