(Before the series began I pointed out a few match-ups I thought would be critical to this series. Here's how they've gone so far.)
Match-Up to Watch: Backes vs. Kopitar
Anze Kopitar- 3 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, +3
David Backes- 3 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -1
Kopitar has 2 points at even-strength, 1 shorthanded, 1 on the power play. Backes has 3 points at even-strength. Interestingly enough, Backes hasn't registered a point when Kopitar is on the ice at even-strength, while Kopitar has 2 points when Backes is on the ice. Probably the most surprising thing that to come out of this series is the fact that Hitchcock has been trying to get Backes away from Kopitar, not the other way around. I kind of assumed Hitch would take the loss with that match-up in order to get easier match-ups for the rest of his lines, but... nope.
How's it going so far: Edge to Kopitar head-to-head.
Match-Up to Watch: Colaiacovo-Pietrangelo vs. Scuderi-Doughty
Scuderi-Doughty- 1 G, 3 A, +4
Colaiacovo-Pietrangelo- 2 A, -2
The Blues suffered a serious setback when Alex Pietrangelo went down and haven't really been able to recover their defensive pairings since. Colaiacovo hasn't actually been that bad but he made a brutal mistake in game 2 that resulted in Kopitar's spectacular shorthanded goal and it looks like he's being benched for today's game. Scuderi-Doughty, meanwhile, have been aces.
How's it going so far: Edge to Kings, with an asterisk
Match-Up to Watch: Depth vs. High-End Talent
Kings top-six: Has created 9 EV goals in 3 games
If you want to know why the Kings are winning, that's why.
Game 1: Voynov scores on a goal created by the 2nd line; 2nd line later adds an empty netter.
Game 2: 2nd line creates a goal 30 seconds in; adds their 4th goal of the series off the rush on a Jeff Carter wrist shot; Kopitar's line gets on the board at even-strength to finish the first period; Justin Williams ices the game a little over a minute into the 2nd period.
Game 3: Williams scores to open the game for the 1st line; 2nd line creates an opportunity that Doughty finishes.
The Kings' bottom-six has only scored 1 goal at even-strength (King's goal in the last game). The Blues just have no answer for the Kings' high-end talent, especially that 2nd line of Penner-Richards-Carter. It's funny, I said this series was going to be an inverse of the Kings-Canucks series but it's actually been more like the Blues-Sharks series; the top lines have matched up decently but the 2nd lines have been the difference.
How's it going so far: Kings are killing them.
Match-Up I Didn't Say To Watch But Is Hilarious Anyway: Barret Jackman vs. the Kings
Barret Jackman vs. the Kings (7 games)- 0 points, -8
Barret Jackman in every other game this season: 1 goal, 12 assists, +19
Bear in mind that Jackman is the guy who injured Halak, putting him out of action for this series.
How's it going so far: lol
Prediction: Kings win, 3-1, scoring the game-winning goal when Barret Jackman accidentally knocks David Backes into Alex Pietrangelo, tearing both of their ACL's.