After tonights game seven match ups (Florida & New Jersey, New York & Ottawa), we’ll have a full schedule for the Western Conference Semifinals, including the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings. This is going to be an incredibly well-matched series (although LA won the season series 3-1), and hockey fans should enjoy the fast pace, low scoring games that are bound to ensue. While watching (on CNBC, i’m sure), I’ve got a few guys to keep an eye out for:
1. Andy McDonald, 10, St. Louis: I think it was apparent in the first round against San Jose that little McDonald (listed as 5’11…yeah, right) has quite a bit of speed. Scoring 4 goals in the first round and racking up 8 points total to lead the team, I can’t see him slowing down anytime soon. Look for him to be one of few who can get something by Jonathan Quick. Speaking of…
2. Jonathan Quick, 32, Los Angeles: That Vezina nod wasn’t a fluke – 26-year-old Quick is here to stay. His 1.95 GAA may seem in like with the Blues tender tandem, but it was through 69 games (Jaroslav Halak played 46, Brian Elliot, 38). Not to mention, he just held the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks to 8 goals in 5 games, maintaining a 1.59 GAA. He’s not your average goalie.
3. Jeff Carter, 77, Los Angeles: After a deadline deal sent former Columbus Blue Jacket Carter to LA for Jack Johnson and a first-round pick, it was apparent that what Carter needed wasn’t a big contract, but a set of line mates to help push him (Mike Richards, Dwight King). It may not have been his best year (21 G, 13A), but he hasn’t had a chance to explode in the playoffs yet. He will.
4. Scott Nichol, 12, St. Louis: Go ahead, call me crazy. Nichol is not cut out to be a first line top scorer, and he knows that. Which is why he is so solid on the fourth line. Averaging 9:19 on ice time (mind you – he’s a fourth liner!), this little guy is not afraid to make big plays in the defensive end, and is not afraid to bring the puck down the ice, regardless of who he’s facing. Plus, he’s got a little mean streak in him!
5. Brian Elliot, 1, St. Louis: I’m a firm believer in going with the hot (and healthy) hand, which is what Elliot has. With Jake Allen on the bench for games 1 and 2, Elliot can truly shine against one of the leagues finest. Between him and Quick, you can rest assured that there will not be a similar situation to that in the Philadelphia Flyers/Pittsburg Penguins series.
Who are you most excited to see this series?