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Blues vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Differing styles of Polak, Russell make for solid pair

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the St. Louis Blues acquired Kris Russell a week after they hired Ken Hitchcock to coach, they had a good understanding of what kind of player they were getting.

When Hitchcock was in Columbus, he had a very young Russell on his roster, so the knowledge and familiarity were there.

And when searching for a spot to insert Russell, the veteran Hitchcock didn't waste any time giving Roman Polak his fourth defensive partner with the season barely a month old.

Hitchcock didn't mind matching the duo despite their physical differences and playing styles. It was like matching oil and water.

Polak, a big, burly 6-foot-1, 225-pound right-handed muscle mass known to punish opponents on his side of the ice, and Russell, the smallish 5-10, 172-pound wispy but dart-like left-handed skater who transitions the puck smoothly from one zone to the other.

It would never work.

Or would it?

"I thought we developed [chemistry] pretty early," Russell told NHL.com. "I thought we had a good regular season together."

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Goalies, defenses could reign in Blues-Kings series

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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.

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.

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I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic