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Blues vs Kings

(Page 2 of 3)
Blues vs Kings - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Blues know they need to get more pucks past Quick

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues saw firsthand how effective Jonathan Quick was during last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 1-2-1
GAA: 1.25 | SVP: 0.959

The Los Angeles Kings' goalie allowed only six goals in a four-game sweep of the Blues in the Western Conference Semifinals. Quick went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and helped the Kings franchise win its first-ever Stanley Cup.

And even though the Blues have a 2-1 lead against the Kings in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series, Quick has been as good as advertised again despite laying blame on himself in losses of Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis.

"He's a tough goalie to play against," Blues wing T.J. Oshie said of Quick after Sunday's practice at Staples Center. "He proved it last year obviously, and he's doing a good job of it this year."

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Kopitar front and center in Kings' search for goals

Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:30 PM / Blues vs Kings - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Anze Kopitar smiled and laughed the notion.

After the bulk of reporters cleared from his scrum, the Los Angeles Kings forward sat at his locker and confirmed that, no, he is not hurt.

"Everything's fine," he said.

It's probably a fair question to ask, though, in the midst of the worst goal-scoring slump of his career. Kopitar hasn't scored a goal in 18 games going into Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). His last goal was March 25 against the Chicago Blackhawks. His previous long for a drought was 14 games last season.

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Kings deal with series deficit, unusual start time

Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 3:18 PM / Blues vs Kings - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The Los Angeles Kings never faced with a series deficit en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, so losing Game 1 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday has left them in unfamiliar territory.

Heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Blues on Thursday night (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC), the Kings are looking for a road split to take with them back to Los Angeles.

However, after losing 2-1 in overtime in Game 1, the Kings are faced with the notion of falling back 0-2 if the Blues prevail in Game 2.

"We're thinking about us and what we have to do," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "In Game 1, we definitely weren't on our game. That's what hurt us. They did some good things, of course, but it was about us and how we competed. It wasn't to the level that it needed to be."

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Blues hope they learned from '12 sweep by Kings

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues clinched home ice in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night, the consensus was it would be best suited for them to avoid the defending champions.

After all, it was the Los Angeles Kings that steamrolled the Blues -- and everyone else for that matter -- en route to their first title a season ago. And the Kings did it as an eighth seed.

But here they are, the Blues and Kings on a collision course again. But this time they will square off in the conference quarterfinals, with Game 1 slated for Tuesday night.

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Quick has work cut out to replicate 2012 postseason

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The spring of Jonathan Quick was beginning to bloom at this time last year.

Quick backstopped the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings to an upset of the No. 1 seed and Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. He allowed more than two goals once in that Stanley Cup Playoff series, and would do so only twice more in the ensuing 15 postseason games. Quick's crablike style of crouching to locate the puck made pundits compare him to Dominik Hasek, and it was clear from his interviews that his focus was tighter than his five-hole.

The final numbers in Quick's Conn Smythe Trophy-winning run: a 1.41 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in 20 games.

So how about an encore? Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford lets out a laugh.

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Bouwmeester focused on an extended playoff run

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Jay Bouwmeester has never been known for his flamboyant personality.

Bouwmeester is known more for a mellow, low-key demeanor, so one could forgive him for not being exuberant when the St. Louis Blues clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff spot. It means after 764 games in 10 NHL seasons, the defenseman will skate in his first playoff game when the Blues face the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings beginning Tuesday.

Jay Bouwmeester
Defense - STL
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 22
SOG: 79 | +/-: -6
Although Bouwmeester, 29, does have playoff experience -- he went to the Calder Cup Finals with the Chicago Wolves in 2004-05 -- Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, "I think it was bantam triple-A, Southside Athletic Club, last time he was in."

Bouwmeester's name forever will be intertwined with the likes of Guy Charron (734 regular-season games, never made the playoffs) and former Calgary Flames teammate Olli Jokinen, who finally made the postseason in 2009 after 799 career games. But the ignominious count finally has come to a conclusion.

However, Bouwmeester's reaction followed in step with his mellow persona.

"It's good, I guess," Bouwmeester said.

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Blues vs. Kings series preview

NHL.com Staff


Blues

 Seed: 429-17-2 • 60 Pts.

Kings

 Seed: 527-16-559 Pts.

The Los Angeles Kings open defense of their Stanley Cup against one of their victims from last spring. The Kings finished fifth in the Western Conference rather than eighth, as they did last season, and have had their ups and downs, including a marked difference in the play of goaltender Jonathan Quick at home and on the road. Jeff Carter's 26 goals gave the Kings an offensive spark: They averaged about half a goal more than they did last season. But Quick's numbers are way down from, especially on the road. Including last spring's sweep, the Kings have won eight in a row against the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis closed the season on a roll, going 11-2-0 in April behind the goaltending of Brian Elliott, who was 3-6-1 before allowing 16 goals in the Blues' 13 games this month. The Kings shredded him last spring after Jaroslav Halak was injured; Elliott got to play down the stretch because Halak was hurt again. Chris Stewart bounced back with a career season, but he was one of three Blues to reach double figures in goals. Alex Pietrangelo is a premier defenseman.

Each team plays a grinding game that figures to limit chances; they are second and third in fewest shots allowed. The winner figures to be the one that gets the better goaltending -- Quick and Elliott finished with below-average save percentages that belie their goals-against averages.

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X-Factor: Mike Richards brings winning way to Kings

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards and winning seem to go hand in hand.

Richards got to lift the Stanley Cup last spring after helping the Kings end a 45-year championship drought, but it wasn't the first time he's gotten a chance to celebrate an ultimate victory.

Mike Richards
Center - LAK
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 32
SOG: 82 | +/-: -8
Richards was a member of the Kitchener Rangers in 2003 when they won the Ontario Hockey League championship and followed that by winning the Memorial Cup. He earned a gold medal with Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championship, and after his junior season ended a few months later, Richards turned pro and helped the Philadelphia Phantoms win the Calder Cup.

If that's not enough, there is the Olympic gold medal he earned with Canada in 2010.

All that winning -- the victory in the Cup Final last spring was the 20th series of his professional and amateur careers in which his team was the final one standing -- is why Richards' value to a team transcends his stats.

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Why the Kings will win the Stanley Cup

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Los Angeles Kings may have surprised even themselves last spring by becoming the lowest-seeded team in history to win the Stanley Cup. Now, after a compressed regular season, during which they had their ups and downs, the Kings are poised to show they can do it again.

Unlike last spring, when the franchise had never won it all since entering the NHL in 1967, the Kings come into this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs as defending champions. They know what they have to do, and that they're capable of doing it. There's no one on this team who doesn't think Los Angeles can become the first repeat champion since the 1997 and '98 Detroit Red Wings.

You can't win a championship without goaltending, and the Kings have one of the NHL's best in net.

Jonathan Quick went from the ECHL to the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP in four years and gave one of the greatest performances by a goaltender in Stanley Cup history last spring. He underwent offseason back surgery and got off to a slow start, but he appears to be rounding into form as the end of the regular season approached. There's no reason to believe he won't give the Kings solid goaltending, night in and night out.

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Five Questions: Quick, road form key to Kings' fate

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Los Angeles Kings come into this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs as defending champions after grinding down four opponents last spring. But it's always tougher to repeat as champion than to win the first title, so the Kings will face a tough challenge as they try to become the first team in 15 years to win the Cup in back-to-back seasons.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 18-13-4
GAA: 2.45 | SVP: 0.902
Do they have the mettle to achieve one of the hardest feats in all of sports? That remains to be seen. But there is no doubt they have the skill and stamina to do so, returning a lineup that is eerily similar to the one that claimed the Cup last June. Still, as they learned last spring, the Stanley Cup Playoffs ask trying questions of even the best teams during its two-month journey.

Here are five of the biggest questions confronting the Kings this spring:

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory