Don’t call it a matinee, but a clean-up day.
Swip-swipe, sweep ‘em up.
The Kings are just one win from pulling out the brooms on the St. Louis Blues, just one win from sweeping the Western Conference‘s #2 seed in dirty fashion. With Thursday night’s 4-2 victory at Staples Center, the Kings are up 3-0 on a seriously deadbeat St. Louis club. The Blues’ only lifeline in the series thus far has been showing up, something the Kings have had trouble with in playing while the sun’s up.
They’ve had a brutal resume in recent history when it comes to playing in LA’s daylight. The Kings hosted four afternoon dates at Staples Center this season, rocking a horrendous 0-3-1 record – in some of their ugliest outings of the year.
If this postseason has showed you anything, though, it’s to take very little from regular season results. Results? Well, as the very last seed to make it into the postseason, the Kings have already knocked out the #1 team, and are on the cusp of eliminating #2.
Eight’s been great – whether we’re talking standings or Drew Doughty.
Sneaking in – then going in
Dent in the Crease: The Kings beat Blues goaltender Brian Elliott outright Thursday night, probably the first time you can say that this series. The prior two contests, Elliott was hung out to dry by a shell-shocked Blues roster, due to the Kings utter dominance in all three zones. He wasn’t the victim of a flat-footed defense this time, he was flat-out beat.
Elliott, along with the entire Blues club, find themselves at the lowest of points. Jaroslav Halak isn’t available to save the day, and you can bet 21 year-old Jake Allen won’t be getting the call. He’s got 1:07 of NHL action to his name. That’s one minute, seven seconds. Just like the Blues themselves, the Kings must hound on a bewildered and beaten Brian Elliott Sunday afternoon.
Howe it’s done
Talk about leadership, talk about Mike Richards‘ presence the past two games. Richards, who planted the Kings five-goal outburst in Game 2, just about took over Game 3 Thursday night. It was a case of the Gordie Howe hat-trick – Richards potting a goal, an assist, and going for a tilt with Jamie Langenbrunner.
This is the Mike Richards you heard about when he came to the Kings last summer, the Mike Richards you’ve been waiting to appear in a Kings uniform. The guy has sparked the roster with physical play the past two games, and has followed that with offensive output.
He does this as a smaller player in the league, and he does it with uncanny smarts that are fooling the best goaltenders in the league. Richards has now beat Roberto Luongo and Brian Elliott while standing along the goal-line, just five feet out, by sliding the puck toward the net and using his eyes and positioning to completely baffle them. That’s not cheap, that’s gold.
Beside Richards notching his third postseason goal Thursday, the Kings got some output from a wide variety of names. Justin Williams scored in his second consecutive game on a botched pass-attempt, but what I’d still call a very smart play. Throw the puck on net, good things will happen. Also, the Kings saw Drew Doughty tally his first of the playoffs, and welcomed Dwight King‘s first career NHL playoff goal.
From all assets, and on all cylinders.
- Game 4 Outlook -
- Once again, the Kings will be stationed at a downtown hotel for the night, giving them an opportunity to feed into tomorrow with a meal and a meeting together. Just as well, they’ll wake up with Staples Center right outside their window, a quick and easy transition for an early start. Darryl Sutter‘s unique, yet very intelligent tweaks to the Kings’ off-ice preparations have deemed to be very helpful.
- The Kings were able to tally the first powerplay goal of the series Thursday, while keeping the Blues blank on the man-advantage. The Kings powerplay has threatened all series, but with little luck. The Blues, on the other hand, look lost on all fronts. Continuing this trend will be important tomorrow. You can’t give St. Louis a spark in any aspect, importantly special teams.
- B.J. Crombeen will return to the Blues lineup for Game 4. Oh no, look out.
- Kyle Clifford is continuing to skate with the Kings, most recently alongside Andrei Loktionov and Kevin Westgarth on a practice line. No immediate return is due for Clifford, but signs are pointing at a return if the Kings advance to the Western Conference Finals.
- No other analysis is needed, simply just one more performance like we’ve seen throughout the series. Kick ‘em while they’re down, and put ‘em out.