Great goaltending and solid defense are the keys to success in the playoffs. At least, that seems to be the lesson to take from the four first-round series in the Western Conference.
While the Philadelphia Flyers showed that you can still sometimes survive by overwhelming your opponent, the four remaining Western Conference teams feature a formula that often leads to low-scoring games.
That’s what made Friday’s second-round opener between the Phoenix Coyotes vs the Nashville Predators so surprising. While it wasn’t exactly reminiscent of Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, there were plenty of scoring chances to be had.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock thinks that the St. Louis-Los Angeles series might end up following a similar path.
“I think this series is going to shock and surprise people,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t think you can keep that standard up: one goal, one goal, one goal. I don’t think you can keep that up. I think when emotion gets as high as it does, just like it did last night, I think the legs get a little bit rubbery, I think you see the players more on the move, like you did last night. And I think you’re going to see more scoring chances because of it.”
It’s worth noting that Hitchcock still doesn’t think this will be a high-scoring series. It’s also possible, as LA Kings Insider’s Rich Hammond pointed out, that Hitchcock might be engaging in a bit of gamesmanship. Still, this is the playoffs and anything can happen.