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Goalies, defenses could reign in Blues-Kings series

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Goalies, defenses could reign in Blues-Kings series
Shutouts the specialty of second-round foes St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings.

If the last two meetings between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings showed us anything, the goal judges at Scottrade Center and Staples Center might not get a lot of work.

The Blues and Kings will meet in a Western Conference Semifinal that could see goals come at an extreme premium.

BLUES-SHARKS SEASON SERIES



Oct. 18 - Kings 5, Blues 0
(Staples Center)


Kings forward Simon Gagne had two goals and an assist and Jonathan Quick turned aside 27 shots for his first shutout of the season

Nov. 22 - Kings 3, Blues 2
(Scottrade Center)


Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell snapped a 2-2 tie with 5:49 left in regulation to lead Los Angeles.

Feb. 3 - Blues 1, Kings 0
(Scottrade Center)


The Blues' Jamie Langenbrunner scored the game's only goal at 8:38 of the second period, and goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots for his fifth shutout of the season.

March 22 - Kings 1, Blues 0 (SO)
(Staples Center)


Kings forward Jeff Carter beat Brian Elliott in the fourth round of the shootout for the game-deciding goal. Elliott had 37 saves through overtime, while the Kings' Jonathan Quick had 35.

-- Adam Kimelman

Their last two regular-season meetings saw each team win 1-0 -- the Blues in regulation in St. Louis on Feb. 3, and the Kings by that same score in a shootout March 22 in Los Angeles.

Those games were just a microcosm of both teams' seasons.

The Blues were the League's stingiest team in the regular season allowing just 155 goals for a total of 1.89 goals per game. The Kings, however, were second, allowing just 170 goals for a total of 2.07 goals per game.

Those trends have carried over into the playoffs, as each team allowed a League-low eight goals in winning their first-round playoff series in five games.

Both teams are led by their stellar goaltenders. For the Blues, it was the two-man tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Elliott set League highs in the regular season with a 1.56 goals-against average and .940 save percentage -- and he's considered the backup. Halak was fifth with a 1.96 GAA and sixth with a .926 save percentage. The pair combined for 15 shutouts this season.

About the only goaltending category the Blues' pair didn't have a leader in was shutouts, where the Kings' Jonathan Quick led with 10. He was second to Elliott with a 1.95 GAA and fifth with a .929 save percentage. And while he had 34 losses in regulation, overtime or shootouts, the Kings scored two goals or fewer in 15 of them, and one goal or less in nine.

Those astounding numbers carried right through the first round of the playoffs. Quick allowed the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks -- the League's fifth-highest scoring team in the regular season -- just eight goals, including a 1-0 shutout in Game 3. And in the clinching Game 5, he allowed only Henrik Sedin's first-period power-play goal and turned aside 26 other shots in the Kings' 2-1 overtime win.

Much like they did in the regular season, Elliott and Halak split time in the Blues' net against the Sharks in the first round. After the Sharks won in double overtime in Game 1, Halak stopped the first 11 shots to come his way in Game 2 but had to leave the game 1:07 into the second period after being injured in a collision with teammate Barrett Jackman late in the first. Elliott came on in relief and stopped all 12 shots he faced to complete the shutout.

Elliott started the final three games of the series, allowing the Sharks just five goals, including just one each in Games 4 and 5.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter knows Quick will be his man in net when the series starts, while Blues coach Ken Hitchcock at some point could have to choose between Elliott and Halak, if the latter recovers from a lower-body injury.

Either way, the offensive players on each team -- and both teams are stocked with talented skaters -- likely won't find a lot of space to work with.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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