2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Western Conference Semifinals Los Angeles Kings vs. St. Louis Blues Odds and Predictions: If the best weapon in the Stanley Cup playoffs is truly a hot goaltender, then the Western Conference Semifinal matchup between the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings and the second-seeded St. Louis Blues has an excess of firepower. Two of the top goalies in the NHL this year will be between the pipes, in a series where goals could be tough to come by. The Blues are the highest-remaining seed in the conference, but St. Louis only enjoys the honor because the Kings upset the top-seeded Vancouver Cancuks in the opening round. Los Angeles might not be finished either. The Kings actually won three out of their four meetings against the Blues during the regular season.
Vezina Trophy candidates will headline this series, and after the performance of Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick and St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott in the first round, both sides have reason to be confident. The Blues held San Jose to one goal or less in three of their four wins, while the Kings held the high-powered Canucks to two goals or less in their four wins. Both teams needed just five games to advance into the conference semifinals.
Elliott led the NHL in save percentage (.940) and goals against average (1.56) this season, and Quick finished second in GAA (1.95) and fourth in save percentage (.929). Quick also led the league with 10 shutouts, finishing one ahead of Elliott. On the surface, it would appear Elliott would have the slight edge. However, he was part of a two-goalie rotation most of the season with Jaroslav Halak, and Halak’s status for this series is in question after he injured his ankle against Vancouver. Elliott has been incredible, but he hasn’t had to carry the load by himself. Quick put up his numbers in 69 starts compared to just 38 starts by Elliot. Quick has proven himself to be durable, but Elliott may not be ready to handle a long series in net without Halak’s help.
In a series that is likely to be low scoring, a hot scorer could make the difference. For St. Louis, veteran Andy McDonald appears to be the guy. He already has four goals and four assists in five games this postseason, and after missing much of the regular season with an injury, he should be well rested. Los Angeles will counter with the dynamic duo of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Kopitar has three assists in the playoffs, while Brown has four goals. Kopitar 25 goals and 51 assists during the regular season, and he is probably the most talented player on the ice in this series outside of the two guys in net. If there is an offensive player that is going to tip the scale, it is Kopitar.
These two teams are essentially mirror images of each other. Neither side has a high-powered offense, but St. Louis and Los Angeles ranked first and second in terms of goals allowed this season. An easy goal in any game could be a back breaker, and the team that wins the series will likely be the one that gets the better effort out of its goaltender. Quick has already shown he can shut down the high-scoring Vancouver attack, and he should be able to do the same to an average Blues’ offense. Throw in the fact that Elliott may have to go out of his comfort zone and play every game, and the stage is set for another Los Angeles upset.
Prediction: Los Angeles Kings Win in 7 Games
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Los Angeles Kings vs St Louis Blues Series Price
4825 Los Angeles Kings +150
4826 St Louis Blues -170
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