Teams ready to begin Western Conference Semifinals after week off
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Now that a week's worth of preparation between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings has come to a conclusion and with Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals just a day away, both teams are showing signs of anxiety.
To coin a simple phrase: let's get the show started.
"We feel like we're ready to go," Blues winger Alex Steen said. "Now it's just an excitement to get going. Tomorrow it will be nice. The day comes and you get back into your gameday routine. It'll be a good atmosphere.
Patrik Berglund (21) hopes to pick up against the Los Angeles Kings
where he left off the last series against San Jose.
"... It's going to be a battle, that's for sure. It's going to be a hard-fought series, intense. Two great buildings as well, the fans are going to get into it. It's going to be a lot of fun."
The second-seeded Blues, who led the NHL in goals-against at 1.89, and eighth-seeded Kings, who were No. 2 at 2.07 goals-against per game, came off of five-game series wins over San Jose and Vancouver, respectively. Both have done their homework and they know what to expect.
Expect a low-scoring, goalie-dominated, chances will be scarce series in which the smallest details could turn out to be the prevailing outcome.
"I expect 25 guys to be used in this series," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "It's going to be physical, it's going to be intense. I think every play's going to matter. It's going to be very entertaining to watch, very high-pressured."
Blues veteran center Jason Arnott agreed.
"It's going to be tough at both ends of the rink," Arnott said. "I think we've got similar teams, but the one thing we have to do is just play our game. We can't get focused in on what they're doing. We have to play our system and our game and just work hard at it."
Added Blues forward Andy McDonald: "Both teams are -- I guess you want to call them defensive, really hard-checking teams. Obviously we play that same type of style. We'll see what happens.
"I think their coach is pretty defensive-minded and so is ours. We're not going to open up and trade chances. We're going to play tight that same way we've played all year long."
The Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk (right) will look to contain the Los Angeles
forwards like he does here against San Jose's Ryane Clowe.
The Kings have heard and read all the press clipping as well. It's hard to argue what to expect.
"I think the media has drawn a lot of similarities ... I think if you look at the stats, the defense, the scoring, everything is very similar," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Right now, we'll see what the difference is. There's going to be differences that show up once you have to play each other six or seven times.
The small intangibles may be what stick out in a series that is expected to be so tightly-contested.
"I think it's going to come down to, again, goaltending is going to be huge for both teams," Brown said. "So whoever has the better goaltender and whoever can find a way to score a timely goal."
Said Kings forward Mike Richards: "We know our system and how we have success and I'm sure they're saying the same thing about their system and how they've had success. ... I don't see any 8-5 scores, but it's going to be tight defense and the opportunites and the chances we're going to get, we've got to bury. [There's] no room for error. We're a simple team. They play a simple game, too ... defensive-minded. So I can't see us taking too many chances, but I think always in the playoffs, mistakes have a big effect."