Up to this point, there are a lot of tight races in both the Eastern and Western Conference. In fact, the only team that is in danger of being swept is the Vancouver Canucks, who trail the Sharks 0-3. The other seven series in the first round are either tied up at 2-2, or are hanging on at 2-1.
And while a lot of them have compelling story lines for Stars fans (Bruins, Penguins, etc.), there is no series playing more exciting hockey right now than the Blues and the Kings. Every single game has been a 1 goal game. The only time the Blues and Kings have led by more than one goal during a game was last night, and that was for only 5:01 of playing time. Two of the games had a goal in the last minute to either tie it, or take the lead. The other two games had an empty net with some great scoring chances in that final 60 seconds.
In other words, it's exactly the kind of close game you come to expect when Ken Hitchcock is one of the coaches behind the bench.
Last night, the Kings outgunned the Blues in order to take the lead in the final frame. Curtis Zupke has more on the power of the top line for LA.
The confetti fell from the rafters for the first time since the team raised the Cup last June. The top line of Williams, Kopitar and Brown, plus Carter, combined for 15 of L.A.'s 29 shots.
"That's what they're supposed to do," coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's what the series is about. If you covered the playoffs last year, it's about big goals - not who scores them, but at the same time, who normally leads your team in scoring. You have to be close to that."
St. Louis didn't take advantage of plenty on the night. T.J. Oshie, who had no goals in 16 previous postseason games, scored twice to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead going into the third period. He pounced on a rebound from the right side at 5:46 of the second after Vladimir Sobotka took the shot on a rush.
Elliott backstopped St. Louis superbly in a second period that was played mostly in the Blues' end. He made a right-to-left leg stop on Kopitar and another when Richards partially fanned, but still put it on net. Then the third period arrived and St. Louis seemed helpless.
"I think it was just a continuation of the second period, to be honest with you," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They took the game to another level. Tonight we didn't have answer.
"We made two mistakes, two really poor mistakes to give them odd-man rushes to get them back in the game. But even when it's 3-2, they were playing better than we were."
If you had to put any money on a series going the full seven games, this is probably it. With the series tied 2-2, the teams head back to St. Louis for the pivotal Game 5. I'd ask who Stars fans are rooting for, but I'm pretty sure the answer is "Not the Kings."
Coming up in today's links: Former Stars players in the playoffs, World championship updates, and some of the Stars go golfing for a cause.
- The Dallas Stars are reworking their front office. Compared to how this organization looked when Tom gaglardi took over, it's safe to say this is becoming his team from top to bottom. [BizJournals]
- Mike Rebeiro was happy when the Stars first missed the playoffs? It seems like a bit of an odd statement coming from the former Star, but apparently it's true. [Dallas News]
- With all of the former Dallas Stars players that are currently in the playoffs, which one is the hardest for you to watch? Personally, I don't find it hard to watch any of them, since they all left on good terms or are trailing 0-3 in their series. [Dallas News]
- Mark Stepneski has some World Championship updates for you. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Here's a list of Calder Trophy Finalists. While Brenden Dillon did not make the ballot, I have seen plenty of national journalists giving him credit for the season he's had. Even if he didn't when an award, that's still quite an accomplishment. [Stars Inside Edge]
- The Allen Americans have tied their series 2-2. These are the finals, so make sure you go and cheer them on if you're looking for something fun to do. From what I've heard, the environment is fantastic. [Dallas News]
- The Stanley Cup Of Chowder has their recap of yesterday's win against the Maple Leafs. Just six more wins to go, Boston. Just a heads up, there are a lot of gifs in this link. [Cup Of Chowdah]
- Meanwhile, the NY Rangers finally managed a win over the Capitals. Now that they've broken through, can they tie the series in the next game? [NHL]
- The Red Wings won in fantastic fashion against the Ducks last night in OT. If you missed this goal, it was something else. It is one of those textbook gritty OT goals. [Puck Daddy]
- Here are the three stars from last night's games, and a few more highlights. [Puck Daddy]
- How many home playoff games will it take for Maple Leafs fans to embarrass themselves? Apparently the answer is "only one," as a fan was seen showing off a "Toronto Stronger" sign. For those unfamiliar, "Boston Stronger" is the slogan that Bostonians are using as a way of uniting themselves after the marathon bombing. I get what the guy is trying to do, but maybe the focus should be on making fun of the team, instead of an incident that left several dead and many more injured. [Puck Daddy]
- Finally, for your video of the day, we have Vernon Fiddler, Eric Nystrom, Jamie Benn, and Alex Goligoski out playing golf for "Links for Leukemia." It's a pretty good cause, so check it out below.