It's difficult to say that the Los Angeles Kings necessarily deserved to lose Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the St. Louis Blues. You could argue that, after about 10 minutes of Blues domination, the Kings made it a fairly even game. One that resulted in a Justin Williams game-tying goal with 32 seconds left.
That said, no one could have predicted the way they did lose, on a Jonathan Quick giveaway to Alex Steen behind the net. Steen was far and away the best skater on the ice in Game 1, and he was rewarded for his forecheck, and for no King being within 10 yards of him. It was the second time Quick has been victimized by his lack of puck-handling skills: a similar played also earned Zach Parise a goal during Game 5 of last year's Stanley Cup Final.
I think many would argue that Kings-Blues Game 1 was one of the most exciting, compelling games out of the first six. The energy the crowd at Scottrade Center brought, combined with the nonstop hitting, made it a brutal, yet somehow gloriously entertaining watch. I don't know how the team that survives this series is going to go much further, based on its first game.
Los Angeles will look to rebound in Game 2 on Thursday night. They may look to, funnily enough, build off of overtime in Game 1 prior to the Steen game-winner. That period was, up until that point, probably their best of that game. It was the only period of Game 1 where they outshot the Blues. The Kings also drew a four-minute power play during the OT, which the Blues promptly scored their winning goal on. Still, they were starting to take control of play in overtime, and perhaps that Williams goal can be looked at as a turning point.
1. So, the Blues finally beat the Kings. Now what?
The Blues had lost nine consecutive games to Los Angeles prior to Game 1. That includes the sweep in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last year, and three games during the 2012-13 NHL season. They have the metaphorical monkey off their backs. Do they turn this into a streak of their own? Or does a Game 2 loss put some doubt into St. Louis, making them wonder if they just got luck and the Kings still have their number head-to-head?
2. Can this series possibly remain as physical as Game 1?
The image everyone remembers from that game is the blood on the ice of Robyn Regehr taking a skate blade to the face. He eventually returned to the game, because *obvious sentiments about hockey players being insane this time of year. This was a physical game all over, however. Just an absolute rumble. Again, the team that wins this series is going to come out completely wrecked physically for some time. You wonder if they can keep up the pace of Game 1. I can't imagine Daryl Sutter and Ken Hitchcock won't demand it. There were 69 hits counted between the two teams in the first game, we'll see if Game 2 can match it.
3. Can any of the Kings' big offensive threats find a way to score?
No offense to Justin Williams, but he's a little bit down the line of people you'd like to be able to come through for the Los Angeles Kings in a big playoff game. Brown, Carter, Kopitar, Richards, Stoll all kept off the board on Tuesday night. The Kings are not going to be able to do it with a goal a game, obviously, even in a series that could shake out a lot like Game 1 did. Alex Steen stepped up for the Blues and took over Game 1. Somebody on Los Angeles needs to have a similar game on Thursday night to keep this from being a 2-0 hole before the teams head for Hollywood.