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Blues vs Kings

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 4:22 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings welcome time to rest prior to second round

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There wasn't much for the Los Angeles Kings to do Sunday except rest and wait for their next opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

About eight forwards and six defensemen participated in an optional skate. Kyle Clifford was not among them, and coach Darryl Sutter gave a defiant "no" when asked about an update. Clifford skated on his own before the morning skate of Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the St. Louis Blues, but did not play.

Sutter was otherwise glad to get a break in between series.

"It's really good," Sutter said. "Between regular season and first round, we were flying today and practicing tomorrow so it's critical for some guys to recover, not only in terms of injury but energy."


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Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 4:36 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Hitchcock understands road Blues must travel

LOS ANGELES -- As coach of the Dallas Stars in 1999, when he led his team to the Stanley Cup, Ken Hitchcock was in this familiar position: down 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and facing elimination on the road.

Not only did Hitchcock's Stars go into Denver and defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals, they won Game 7 at home, and that run was culminated with a victory over the Buffalo Sabres in six games to win the Stanley Cup.

Fast forward 14 years, when Hitchcock's St. Louis Blues are down 3-2 against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings, on the road, in a tough building, needing a win to keep their season alive.

So what can these Blues draw from their veteran coach that they must apply against a Kings team that has won three straight in the series?

"You have to outplay the team," Hitchcock said after Friday's morning skate. "You can't expect to play at the same level and win the hockey game. It doesn't happen. I've been in this situation a number of times and come through, and it's been the same similar landscape. We have to outplay them today. If we play at the same level, it's not going to be good enough"

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Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 2:41 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Clifford a question mark for Kings

LOS ANGELES -- The big drama for the Los Angeles Kings at the morning skate Friday was the absence of forward Kyle Clifford, which was explained by coach Darryl Sutter.

"He gets here before you guys," Sutter said. "Then he was doing a Geico commercial, and then he was doing the weather with Channel 4 this morning up in the helicopter."

Sutter expanded to say Clifford "had … what does [St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock] call it? A maintenance day, the day of the game."

If Clifford can't play, that would seem to be the only significant change for the Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Blues at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 6:59 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings ready for another physical battle with Blues

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings went through last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs like a buzz saw. So far this spring, that saw has been dulled, bent and chipped in what is arguably the most closely contested series of this postseason.

"I don't remember all the statistics from series in the past, but from what I've read there [were] 377-some hits going into last game," Dustin Penner said of L.A.'s Western Conference Quarterfinal against the St. Louis Blues.

"I'd have to think this is the most physical one I've been a part of so far."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues, Kings ready for best-of-3 series

ST. LOUIS -- Every game has been decided by one goal. Each team feels like it could have won all four. This is how tight the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings has gotten.

The Blues had the early momentum by winning the first two at Scottrade Center. The Kings grabbed it back with a pair of victories in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.

It sets up Game 5 in St. Louis on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CNBC, CBC), where the Blues have won eight in a row, and the Kings have lost eight straight on the road. On the flip side, the defending Stanley Cup champions have won nine in a row at home.

So what can be made of the series so far? It's everything everyone cooked it up to be.

"It's been like, 'Who's got control of anything right now?'" Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They got momentum off the game [Monday]. I don't think they got momentum off of Game 3. We probably deserved a better fate in [Game] 3, but they took the game [Monday]. They were better than we were. They won a lot of puck battles that we'd been winning before. They dialed it up. There's another level out there. It's our job now to answer the level.

"We got home ice, we've earned it. It's a best-of-3 now. We'll see where it goes. It's been very intense, hard hockey. They went up in a gear [Monday] that we're going to have to find an answer for."

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Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 6:31 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues, Kings fighting for every inch

LOS ANGELES -- One thing that's been determined in this Western Conference Quarterfinals series between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings: the real estate is limited.

With a grand total of seven goals scored in the first three games of the series, Monday night's Game 4 shouldn't see goals scored in droves.

The Kings have certainly done their job by limiting the Blues to four goals in the series, but the Blues' stinginess goes back to when the team went on this current 14-4-0 run. In 18 games, the Blues have allowed 25 goals, or an average of 1.39 goals per game. Take away two of those games in which they've allowed nine goals, the Blues are allowing 16 goals in 16 games, or one per contest. That one goal per game falls right in line with the three goals the Blues have surrendered in this series as well, but only lead it 2-1.


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Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 2:25 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings likely to go with seven defensemen again

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter will appear to go with seven defensemen again and rotate wingers on the fourth line for Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Alec Martinez took part in the line rushes Monday with Rob Scuderi, while Jake Muzzin was with Slava Voynov. Drew Doughty skated with usual partner Robyn Regehr while Keaton Ellerby would remain in, largely as a penalty-killing force.

Jordan Nolan took rushes with the fourth line but stayed out with the extras.


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Posted On Sunday, 05.05.2013 / 5:37 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Martinez makes an immediate impact in return

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – It was difficult not to notice Alec Martinez when he stepped on the ice for an optional skate Sunday.

The sombrero gave him away, for starters. He also wore a green jersey and a red sock and white sock in a presumed homage to the Mexican flag on Cinco de Mayo. A few cheers went up from the sparse crowd.

"We obviously had a little fun with that in the locker room," said Martinez, who actually has Spanish heritage on his grandfather's side. "If you can't laugh at yourself, I don't think you can't laugh at all. We had fun with it but it was back to work once we were on the ice."

Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he bought the sombrero at liquor store in the morning, and Martinez gave the line of the day when told about his coach's, um, shopping habits.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues ready to confront desperate group of Kings

LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues have a 2-0 series lead heading into Saturday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), but won't sit comfortably thinking the series is in the bag.

Both games in St. Louis, 2-1 victories (including the first in overtime), could have gone the other way with one shot. But the Blues, who have never lost when leading a playoff series 2-0 (they're 10-0 in franchise history) will look to snap a five-game losing skid in this building, including a 6-4 collapse on March 5 when they led 4-1 in the second period.

"For us, we just have to play 60 minutes with competitive composure," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're going to have to absorb some blows, just like you do any place on the road, but we just have to maintain our composure. We gathered it back in (Thursday) in the second half of the game and won the game because of it. We're going to have to find a way to have to do it for more minutes than 30 minutes if we expect to win in this building."


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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 3:10 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings could switch up defense with Martinez

LOS ANGELES -- There could be a new face on the Los Angeles Kings defense, and it doesn't appear to be Matt Greene who is going back into the lineup.

The Kings changed up their defensive pairings at the morning skate Saturday as Alec Martinez skated with Rob Scuderi while Slava Voynov was with Jake Muzzin.

The presence of Martinez is significant because he has not played since April 2. He didn't know or wouldn't say if he would play in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"Ask Darryl," Martinez said in reference to coach Darryl Sutter. "Every guy wants to play. I'll just wait, and if my name's called I'll be ready."

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 6:23 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings regroup looking for more goals

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The sun came up for the Los Angeles Kings when they returned home Friday. In fact, it was 93 degrees in L.A. and the Kings tried to put a sunny outlook on their 2-0 deficit against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The Kings last faced a 2-0 series hole in the 2002 conference quarterfinals. They last time they erased such a deficit and won was in the 2001 conference quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings.

This is drastically different from the Stanley Cup run last season in which Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead in all four postseason series.

“We’re not going to do what we did last year,” forward Dustin Penner said. “We've got to find different ways to win games now.

“We expect to win them all. We know based on reality, that’s probably not going to happen. But you just take each task on as it comes at you. Now we’re down, 2-0, we've got to worry about having a good start. They’re going to come in here -- opportunity lies in front of them -- they want to get that third one just like we did last year. We've got to combat what they’re going to bring to the table.”

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Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings swap Fraser in for Richardson in Game 2

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will keep their Game 1 lineup intact for Thursday night. The Los Angeles Kings will make one change at forward with a few tweaks elsewhere for Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, as Colin Fraser will replace Brad Richardson.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blues and Kings:


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 4:09 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues set physical tone early in Game 1

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- After being pushed out of their element by the Los Angeles Kings en route to being swept in the Stanley Cup Playoffs a season ago, the St. Louis Blues felt like the only way to dictate the tempo in the Western Conference Quarterfinals opener between the two teams Tuesday was to initiate the contact and most importantly, push first.

The Blues, who took Game 1, 2-1 on Alexander Steen's shorthanded overtime goal, came out with an intensity that was packed with the kind of physical element that's suited for their style of play.

"I think last year they did it to us," Blues enforcer Ryan Reaves said of the 2012 sweep. "They came out, all four lines were physical. They pushed us out. We really didn't have a response for them.

"I think this year, it's got to be the opposite. We've got to come out and push them out first and then when they push back, we've got to push harder."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:47 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Sutter says Greene not ready for Kings

ST. LOUIS -- After dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series 2-1 in overtime against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Kings held an optional skate Wednesday at Scottrade Center.

A dozen players along with backup goalie Jonathan Bernier participated in advance of Thursday's Game 2.

Among them was defenseman Matt Greene, who missed Game 1 and the regular-season finale with an undisclosed injury.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:06 PM

NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Jim Fox reports from St. Louis

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Hitchcock opts for experience in Game 1

ST. LOUIS -- Ken Hitchcock wouldn't play his card Monday. He did Tuesday: T.J. Oshie will return to the St. Louis Blues lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings.

Who will Oshie replace? It was assumed one of the fourth-line players would be taken out, with Adam Cracknell at the top of the list. But Hitchcock will instead sit rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, at least for the first game.

"I've always believed that the first kick at the can in playoffs is for veteran players," Hitchcock said. "You give them a go. Tarasenko, [Dmitrij] Jaskin will probably get some time during the playoffs, but you want to give the veterans a chance to prove -- unless they've really underperformed -- they want to take the ball and run with it. That's what we're going to do. If somebody under performs, then we won't hesitate to replace and move from there."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 12:31 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Oshie in, Tarasenko out for Blues

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters forward T.J. Oshie will be in the lineup for Game 1 of his team's Stanley Cup Playoff series Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings (8 p.m. ET, CBNC, CBC).

Oshie missed the final 15 regular-season games following an injury to his left ankle during a March 28 game against the Kings. He had surgery April 16.

To open a spot, Hitchcock said rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko will be a healthy scratch.

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie