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Blues vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Blues realize this season just a step toward their goal

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the dust settles and they shake off the sting of a sudden four-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals, the St. Louis Blues can take solace in the fact that a foundation has been laid and expectations will be higher moving forward.

The Blues accumulated the second-highest point total in franchise history with 109, changing coaches early this season after a 6-7 start before skyrocketing up the standings and winning the Central Division title for the first time since 2000 with a 49-22-11 record. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and were two points shy of winning the Presidents' Trophy.

But after dispatching the San Jose Sharks in impressive fashion in the first round, the Blues crashed and burned against the underrated Kings. Players had their exit meetings Monday and Tuesday, and they are now headed for a summer of working on taking the next step heading into the 2012-13 season.

"Yeah. A week and a half, two weeks ago, we just beat the San Jose Sharks and had the world in the palm of our hands," winger Chris Stewart said. "It was definitely not the way we saw ourselves going out. Obviously our goal was to win the Stanley Cup, but we came up short this year. There were some good things that did happen this year that can't go overlooked."

Five reasons Blues' season abruptly came to an end

Louie Korac - Correspondent

After impressively knocking off in five games many prognosticators' preseason choice to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final this season, the St. Louis Blues themselves were brushed to the sidelines themselves by a buzz saw.

In impressive fashion, the Blues dissected the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and became the darling pick as a Stanley Cup favorite. But just as quickly as they took apart the Sharks, the Blues were taken apart themselves and learned some hard and valuable lessons in being swept out of the postseason by a very game and hungry Los Angeles Kings squad -- a No. 8 seed -- culminating with Sunday's 3-1 loss at Staples Center.

Quick comes up big again for Kings

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

LOS ANGELESJonathan Quick kept bending and stretching and sprawling, but he didn't break in the most crucial moment of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 8-1-0
GAA: 1.55 | SVP: 0.949
In the third period of Game 4 and the St. Louis Blues trailing, 2-1, David Perron got his stick on Kris Russell's rebound at the top of the crease and whacked it on goal. The puck skidded toward the goal line before Anze Kopitar nudged it into the outstretched glove of Quick.

It wasn't that Kopitar helped so much that Quick was able to reach back and put his glove there. Quick wasn't about to accept any praise, though.

"I think [Kopitar] got a piece of it, right?" Quick said. "I didn't think I made it. It was huge. It's a scramble play and that's something we've not only our defense and forward have been doing all year long, we've been getting back, helping out down low in front of the net. It was a key save right there."

Penalties prove costly for Blues

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- St. Louis Blues captain David Backes thought his team played its best contest of this series Sunday afternoon with the season in the balance.

Still, it wasn't enough for his team to avoid elimination at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, who swept St. Louis with a 3-1 victory to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

There were problems throughout the series for the Blues -- injuries, an ineffective power play, consistently playing from behind. The biggest issue in Game 4 was also something that troubled them earlier in the series -- bad penalties, either because of where they happened on the ice or when they happened.

Kings await next opponent

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

For the first time in 19 years, the Los Angeles Kings will participate in the Western Conference Finals. All they need now is an opponent.

The Kings became the first team to eliminate the top two seeds in a conference (since the NHL adopted the format in 1993-94) when they earned a 3-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues at the Staples Center on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles also becomes just the third No. 8 seed to advance to the conference finals.

So, who's up next? The Kings could find out as early as Monday night, when the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators resume their series at Arena. The Coyotes took a 3-1 series lead with Friday night's 1-0 victory at Bridgestone Arena. Should Nashville stave off elimination Monday, Game 6 would be played in Nashville on Wednesday. Game 7, if necessary, would be played back in Phoenix on Friday.

Captain Dustin Brown sets the tone for Kings

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

Dustin Brown
Right Wing - LAK
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 9
SOG: 28 | +/-: 8
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Drew Doughty almost shakes his head at the thought of having to defend Dustin Brown in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series.

As one half of the Los Angeles Kings' shutdown defensemen pair, with Rob Scuderi, Doughty has a good view of a postseason stamped by Brown's greatest hits package.

There was the shoulder-on-shoulder hit on Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, perhaps the defining play of the playoffs so far. There was his big bump that nearly sent St. Louis captain David Backes into the bench, and his hip check of Alex Pietrangelo, in Game 3 of the semifinals.

Sutter pushing the right buttons in L.A.

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Talk to the Los Angeles Kings long enough and eventually each will have a story about Darryl Sutter's obsession with focus and preparation.

Drew Doughty found out during Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Vancouver Canucks.

"I went in, between periods, to grab a drink and we had our TVs on in there," Doughty said. "I just grabbed my drink and took a peek at the TV, and he happened to catch me in there when I was looking at the TV. I got in trouble for that, and he yelled at me, so I made sure not to go in there anymore."

Blues' four-point plan to fight back against Kings

Louie Korac - Correspondent


After falling in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, the St. Louis Blues are in a deep hole trying to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

Only three times in NHL history have teams overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. The Philadelphia Flyers were the most recent to do so, beating the Boston Bruins in 2010 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The others were the 1975 New York Islanders, who beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference quarterfinals and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who downed the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final.

Penner's year goes from pancakes to playoff heroics

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The biggest media scrum of the Los Angeles Kings' locker room on Wednesday was for Dustin Penner, who covered a variety of topics.

First there was his admiration for the hit that St. Louis Blues winger T.J. Oshie laid on him in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

"It was a great hit," Penner said. "I haven't been hit that hard in a while. I can't remember. I might have been [with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League] in the playoffs. It actually felt good, it was so pure."

Penner even took to Twitter to commend Oshie, and his recent activity on the social media site was another topic. Penner said he did it after peer pressure from teammates and he has genuinely embraced interacting with fans.

Blues know they need to be better

Louie Korac - Correspondent

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- If history tells the story, the St. Louis Blues are in big trouble.

After falling 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals to fall into a 0-2 hole, the Blues are faced with the uphill task of winning a series in this predicament that they've only done once in franchise history.

The Blues are 1-16 in series which they lose the first two games, with their only win coming against the Minnesota North Stars in 1972, winning in seven games.

But as captain David Backes tells it, it'll be 1-17 if things don't change fast.

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