VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Blues ready for another shot at Kings

ST. LOUIS (AP) - This time around, the St. Louis Blues are determined not to be a mere speed bump for the Los Angeles Kings.

Advertisement
Coach Ken Hitchcock likes his team's chances of making a deep playoff run, but scoffed away a suggestion that the Blues and Kings have a lot of similarities. After sweeping the Blues in the second round last spring en route to the franchise's first Stanley Cup, Los Angeles won all three games this season, too, and have taken eight in a row overall.

``Look, we haven't beaten them in two years,'' Hitchcock said Monday. ``I think we're really hungry for this series. It's a matchup that quite frankly if we're going to go far, the confidence if we could win this series would be astronomical.''

The Blues have won 12 of their last 15 with a mix of stingy goaltending, tight checking and just enough offense. They won their last six at home to claim the fourth seed in the Western Conference after finishing one point ahead of the Kings.

Forward T.J Oshie, expected back from ankle surgery for Game 1 Tuesday night, believes the key to the series is ``probably not let them push us around and intimidate us.''

``I think last year, not everyone, but we had some guys that just didn't really want to go into the hard areas,'' Oshie said. ``They're going to come hard and we're going to do the same.''

Hitchcock said the Kings' pace was a bigger factor last spring and added ``physical play is the most over-rated thing in playoffs.''

Yet the Kings didn't downplay expectations it'll be a physical series.

``Big bodies on each side, I don't anticipate anything else,'' forward Justin Williams said. ``If you're a slow team, you're going to get hit.

``If you skate the puck quick, get out of your zone quick, you're not going to be hit.''

The Kings were the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup last year, bumping off the No. 2-seeded Blues, and begin their bid for a repeat as a well-respected No. 5.

``Los Angeles is the only team that has the knowledge of what it takes to win,'' Hitchcock said. ``Everybody else can talk about it, but they have it, they know how deep you have to go.''

Captain Dustin Brown, who scored twice in the Kings' clinching victory over St. Louis last season, said it's important to remember how grueling the playoffs can be.

``We went through it just last year,'' Brown said. ``But sometimes you've got to really focus on how hard it is, how much work you have to put in to be successful this time of the year. Shift by shift, literally taking it one period at a time.''

Part of that mind-set means not taking their recent dominance in the series for granted. The Blues made significant moves on defense for the stretch and after the final meeting against the Kings, picking up Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold.

Jeff Carter had 26 goals and Anze Kopitar had a team-leading 42 points for the Kings.

``The playoffs are about players stepping up,'' Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. ``Experience has got to help. It's not necessarily winning, it's understanding how long the haul is. We didn't play St. Louis until the second round last year, so St. Louis knows how to win, too.

The goalies figure to be in the spotlight, especially with neither team generating much offense. The Kings totaled two or fewer goals in five of their last seven and the Blues scored two or fewer goals in eight consecutive games this month.

Jonathan Quick was ready for it last year, allowing five goals against the Blues and taking the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP with a 1.41 goals-against average.

Brian Elliott gets the Game 1 start for St. Louis ahead of Jaroslav Halak, recovered from a groin injury, off a spectacular rebound from early-season difficulties that included a benching and conditioning stint in the minors. He won nine games in April with three straight shutouts on the road.

Hitchcock said there was a good reason Elliott struggled in the Kings series last year. He was treated for an inner-ear infection throughout the series, and Hitchcock said ``I wasn't in the medical thing, all I knew was he had no balance.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
News: Grand Salami - February
Penguins D Daley to miss six weeks
Capitals send F Boyd back to AHL
Blackhawks agree to terms with Glass
Pens acquire Hainsey from Carolina
Iginla receptive to being traded
Trading pace to pick up next week
Ducks recall LW Nicolas Kerdiles
Wings assign Coreau for conditioning
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NHL Pro Hockey Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NHL Hot Streaks
8-1, +815 NHL Win Streak
20-9 +1,720 This Month, +2,975 TY
3-1 L2 Days, 32-17 +1,889 GPlays
6-2, +410 L8 Guaranteed Plays
11-5, +598 Last 16 G-Plays
+3,053 Net Profits This Year
3-0 L2 Days, 8-3 +620 L11 G-Plays
NHL Pro Hockey Expert Sports Picks - Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning
2016 NHL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 3053
Bill Marzano + 2975
Stephen Nover + 1804
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 1173
Bruce Marshall + 1033
Scott Rickenbach + 347
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 667
Bruce Marshall + 386
Stephen Nover + 117
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2762
Scott Rickenbach + 2355
Bill Marzano + 1156
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 1066
Stephen Nover + 238
ASA + 225
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 670
Bruce Marshall + 529
Bill Marzano + 453
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership