Lighthouse Hockey is an Islanders-focused site, but we have an annual tradition of polling our readers to pick each playoff series. No reason to dispense with this tradition just because the Islanders have put us in the suddenly unfamiliar position of watching playoff series that actually involve them.
Then they ran into the Los Angeles Kings, who swept them and dominated everyone else in their path to the Stanley Cup.
If you're an Islanders fan bummed that the final weekend of the season positioned them to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, you can lend a sympathetic ear to Blues fans who saw their team finish the season on a 9-3 run and were rewarded with ... the Kings again.
Home ice advantage doesn't matter; the Blues had that last year. Being one of the league's best possession teams doesn't matter; the Kings are even better (the best, actually) by that metric. Brian Elliott's late-season resurrection (how many can one man's career have?) doesn't matter; he had a Jennings-level season last year before the Kings exposed him in the second round.
Season Series: L.A. 3-0-0 (Shots: 92-58)
Since I watch this team a lot, and since I've seen the Blues lose to the Kings eight straight times, my own hybrid stats-and-eyes view is this: The Blues are an outstanding team and have nearly as good a case to knock off the champs as anyone, but it's a match they've yet to figure out. Generally, the Kings have that ever-desirable combination of skill and size to physically wear opponents down.
As one microcosmic example, last year Dwight King knocked Alex Pietrangelo out of the game and hindered him for the series with a borderline hit. On a routine play, the Kings bottom-sixer knocked out the Blues' top defenseman.
Oh, and also: The Blues goaltending is completely untrustworthy and might even be one reason some Blues players aren't always checked "on." You know how having a bad or unsupportive boss makes you wonder why you bother trying? Well, playing in front of a bad or unreliable goalie can have a similar deflationary effect. The position is simply too important. It's hard to go full tilt 100% of the time when you see how all efforts can go for naught because of mistakes by the most important guy on the ice.
Anyway, Blues GM Doug Armstrong thinks the goaltending issue had more to do with the team play, which is also a familiar concept for Isles fans.
Separate from that, and just because: Fun little perspective tweet from Blues winger David Perron, after Andy Strickland suggested the 48-game schedule wasn't much of a grind because players prefer games to practices anyway:
@andystrickland sure but we need a lot of practice to work on skills so it stays where it should be. 3 shots a game isnt enough to stay sharp— David Perron (@DP_57) April 30, 2013
For the Kings, this is a beatable opponent, but it's one that's liable to wake up and figure them out one of these days. If they win, it could still be a lengthy, physical series which could hurt if their second-round opponent is another top seed.
|Game||Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||National TV|
|Game 1||Tue, Apr 30||Kings at Blues||8 p.m.||CNBC, CBC|
|Game 2||Thu, May 2||Kings at Blues||9:30 p.m.||CNBC, CBC|
|Game 3||Sat, May 4||Blues at Kings||10 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC|
|Game 4||Mon, May 6||Blues at Kings||10 p.m.||NBCSN, CBC|
|Game 5*||Wed, May 8||Kings at Blues||TBD||CBC|
|Game 6*||Fri, May 10||Blues at Kings||TBD||CBC|
|Game 7*||Mon, May 13||Kings at Blues||TBD||CBC|
And who do you have in this one?
LHH Playoff Pool
You'll see this in the other playoff poll posts, but Mark set up a pool (no money involved, this is Communist LHH remember) like last year for everyone to make their full playoff picks, for all four rounds. Bonus for getting upsets right. No actual prizes -- this is just for fun. Link and full details here.