Found March 23, 2012 on
Fox Sports West:
For about an hour Thursday night, the Los Angeles Kings had slipped into ninth place in the Western Conference.
When the ice scrapings had finally settled after their stomach-churning 1-0 shootout win over the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues at Staples Center, they had leapt all the way into the number three seeding by virtue of their sixth straight win since a 4-3 loss in Detroit on March 9 that had dropped the club to 11th place in the conference.
In two weeks, the Kings have jumped eight spots in the standings and appear to be peaking at the appropriate time.
They did it Thursday against a club that while not a mirror image of itself still offers many similar characteristics. The forechecking, hard-hitting, defense-first Blues also rely upon an All-Star goaltender in Brian Elliott as part of a platoon with Jaroslav Halak.
Jonathan Quick, whose 35 saves and eighth shutout of the season represented perhaps the strongest case he has made for the Vezina Trophy, commended his counterpart at the other end of the ice.
"I tip the cap to Elliot. He played unreal down at the other end and made some big saves to keep them in it," Quick said."
Los Angeles, whose 2,086 hits rank second in the league, combined for 86 with a competitive St. Louis squad. The forechecking, work ethic, and responsibility in the defensive zone are traits that both teams share.
"We know they come with a lot of pressure, especially on the forecheck, and you don't have a lot of time to make plays out there," Jarret Stoll said. "It's got to be a chip game, it's got to be a support game and a disciplined game. We did a pretty good job of that."
Along with the New York Rangers, the Kings are one of only two teams within a half goal of the Blues' NHL-leading 1.85 goals allowed per game. Both teams have strong depth down the center of the ice and venture to be amongst the tougher teams
"They're a big, strong team. They've got a lot of depth," Stoll said. "The top three center ice men are big, strong bodies who can skate and make plays, and their wingers can fly out there. They're a good team. They're a well-balanced team from top to bottom, and they've got good goaltending."
"We feel we're a similar team."
Considering Los Angeles' size increase with the additions of Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, Anze Kopitar's assessment of St. Louis' tendencies almost sounds like a scouting report of his own team.
"They don't give a whole lot of chances," Kopitar said. "You really can't get frustrated. They play very physical, they have some big bodies that throw some weight around. It's obviously tough to play against it, but you've got to get your nose dirty and get into the battles."
It's a weighty complement when the likely Jack Adams Award recipient and coach of a President's Trophy-contending team refers to an evenhanded hypothetical playoff matchup.
"If these two teams ever met up, it would be a hell of a series," Ken Hitchcock said.
NOTES: Brian Elliott: "It was a tight game. We knew that coming in it would pretty much be like a playoff game. They're playing for their playoff lives, so we just tried to create our own storm, create our own offenseWe got a point here but we can't be happy with it, but we have just got to put it in our back pocket and move onto the next gameIt's a hard fought game. It's always disappointing when you don't get the two points , but when you come here on the road it's a tough building to play in." Los Angeles has won six in a row for the first time since October 12 November 13, 2010. Jonathan Quick's eighth shutout of the season ties Henrik Lundqvist for the league lead and ties Rogie Vachon's single-season club record from 1976-77. The Kings played in their eighth 1-0 game of the season and second against St. Louis; they're 3-4-1 in such games. Though they lead the league in points, Southern California has not been kind to St. Louis. The Blues finished the regular season 0-3-1 at Staples Center and Honda Center and were outscored 13-5, not counting Monday's shootout game-winner.
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