After losing nine consecutive games to the Los Angeles Kings, including a four-game sweep in the second round of last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the St. Louis Blues are making "Beat L.A." their mantra so far, and achieving it successfully. The Blues have gotten two consecutive 2-1 wins over the Kings. They now have a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series after a big comeback victory on Thursday night.
It didn't start out well. The Blues took four minor penalties in the first 10 minutes of Game 2. They killed off the first two penalties, but the Kings got a 5-on-3 mid-way through the first period. Dustin Brown finally cashed in on the 5-on-3 at 9:55 of the first and made it 1-0 Los Angeles. St. Louis never took another penalty for the rest of that game after committing four in 10 minutes.
The second period was scoreless, but the Blues got on the board in the third period, when Patrik Berglund tipped home an Alex Pietrangelo pass to make it a 1-1 game. The Blues then got a winner from the most unlikely of sources. Barret Jackman, who has 23 career NHL goals and had zero in the playoffs before Thursday night, unleashed a wrist shot that beat Jonathan Quick with 51 seconds to go, and all of a sudden it was over.
The two teams trek out to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4, with LA in a must-win situation, and St. Louis with a chance to pounce and beat the Kings for good.
1. Would anyone like to give Jonathan Quick a second goal to work with?
Two goals in two games against any team -- even the Blues, who scored less than the Kings did this season -- is not enough, especially on the road. Dustin Brown and Justin Williams are the only two players, out of the lineup of stars the Kings have, to cash in so far. That's unacceptable, and the Kings need to start finding ways to get to Brian Elliott, or their reign will end very quickly.
2. Is another unlikely hero waiting in the cards for St. Louis?
Alex Steen is a very good player, but I don't know if anyone expected him to come out flying the way he did in Game 1 of this series. Certainly, no reasonable human being could've expected Barret Jackman to be the offensive hero for St. Louis in Game 2. Whenever you start getting a different hero every night, you start to believe you've got a bit of destiny in you in these playoffs. Will someone else come through for the Blues in Game 3?
3. Will the physical battles start to take a toll on either team?
These two teams have beaten each other up pretty hard. It has to be frustrating for Los Angeles to give so much of themselves and get no result whatsoever out of those two games in St. Louis. Could it possibly start to boil over for them and result in some bad penalties, or just beaten up players? Or will St. Louis start to give and the Kings will have some room for a comeback?