Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
West Quarter Final, Game 1 @ St. Louis; Apr.30/13, 5pm PST (8pm EST)
Can Jonathan Quick return to his form last spring? Can Dustin Penner rediscover his scoring touch like he did this time last year? What about Dustin Brown? Can he lead his team being the overpowering physical presence we’re used to seeing? And how about Jake Muzzin? How will he fare in his first taste of the postseason? All of these questions should and will be answered over the course of the next little while as the Los Angeles Kings begin defense of their Stanley Cup crown against the St. Louis Blues, beginning Tuesday night in the Gateway to the West.
The Kings won the season series 3-0, they swept the Blues in four-straight last spring and have won eight straight against their rivals from the Midwest dating back to last February. But history is just that: history. The Kings and Blues turn a new page on their rivalry as they open the playoffs against each other with some experts going as far as picking the next conference champion to come out of this series.
Veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will be making his playoff debut on Tuesday as he, and blueliner Jordan Leopold, were not with St. Louis during Los Angeles’ dominance of them over the last year.
After recovering from ankle surgery, Blues’ forward TJ Oshie is expected to play in Game 1 on Tuesday which should give St. Louis a significant momentum boost. They have won 12 of their last 15 heading into the playoffs and while their goaltending has been suspect as of late, the Blues are confident they can oust the defending champs.
As for the reigning champs, they had practice on Monday in St. Louis with Kyle Clifford skating on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. Whether that’s a sign for Game 1 is yet to be seen but it seems most likely that Clifford will begin the series on the top line. The same can be said for newest defenseman Robyn Regehr who skated on the top defensive unit with Drew Doughty.
While defenseman Matt Greene admitted that he was fine after missing Los Angeles’ regular-season finale against San Jose, the bruising blueliner is day-to-day and won’t likely play in Game 1 as he was paired up with Alec Martinez as the team’s seventh and eighth defensemen in practice. But we’ll see for sure on Monday night whether Greene suits up or not.
At this point, there’s not much else to say except to drop the puck and begin the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Enjoy the game!