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Both teams in this series proved to be surprises this year, though, not in the same way. The St. Louis Blues went largely unnoticed before the season began, sporting a young and not particularly impressive roster. The Kings, meanwhile, had a pair of great young goalies and newly acquired offensive stud Mike Richard to help out Anze Kopitar and get things going in LA.
Obviously, neither of those scenarios lasted. After a slow start, the Blues fired their coach, hired Ken Hitchcock and immediately began looking like a dangerous team. They rose steadily all year, even leading the league at one point, backed by the strong play of goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.
Meanwhile, the Kings never really took off. The offense was stagnant, and the only thing that kept the team going much of the season was Jonathan Quick's superb play night after night. Now these two question marks will meet, and only one will move on.
Oct. 18: LAK def. STL 5-0 in Los Angeles
Nov. 22: LAK def. STL 3-2 in St. Louis
Feb 3: STL def. LAK 1-0 in St. Louis
Mar. 22: LAK def. STL 1-0 (SO) in Los Angeles
St. Louis Blues
Finished 2nd in West
Defeated San Jose in 5 games
The Blues quickly rebounded from a Game 1 loss with four straight wins against the Sharks.
Jaroslav Halak played quite well in net while he was healthy, but once Brian Elliott stepped in, the team got that much scarier. Now Elliott sits with a 3-0 record, a 1.37 GAA and a .949 save percentage.
These astonishing numbers may look familiar, as they're not really that far off from the regular-season stats of Brian Elliott. Both Blues goalies looked great all year, and they both looked good in the first round, so it doesn't appear that they should have too many problems moving forward.
Meanwhile, Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund are tearing things up for the Blues, combing for 15 points. McDonald's four goals leads the team, and his four assists are tied with Berglund's. The real problem comes past them.
Those two put up 15 points; the entire rest of the team put up 24.
Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner each have only one goal; T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Alexander Steen, David Perron, Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo combine for three goals. While McDonald and Berglund have been crazy-good of late, others will need to step up to keep things going smoothly.
Los Angeles Kings
Finished 8th in West
Defeated Vancouver in 5 games
The Kings won over a lot of fans when they knocked out the league-best Vancouver Canucks in just five games. Not only did they beat a team that had more points than any other, they beat them conclusively.
It began and ended with Jonathan Quick, who was every bit the superstar he was in the regular season. Quick managed a .953 save percentage to go with a shutout and a 1.59 goals-against average.
After Quick, the most important player has to be Dustin Brown. The team's captain and perennial leader in hits is leading the way offensively, putting up four goals along with a helper. Two of his goals came in the same night, and were both shorthanded.
There was somewhat solid production across the board from the Kings: Justin Williams, Kopitar, Mike Richards, Willie Mitchell, Jarret Stoll, Jeff Carter, Trevor Lewis and Dustin Penner each put up at least two points—no huge feat, but not bad for a five-game series.