EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The series has played out the way Blues coach Ken Hitchcock envisioned in that his team is running into a Kings club that has been dialed in since late February-early March.
L.A. had to come on like gangbusters just to get the eighth seed, and now the Kings' grinding style is perfectly suited for the playoffs against a team that plays the same way.
"I think we're getting done to us what we've done to teams all year," Hitchcock said. "I think we're getting it done to us. It's how do we react to this now?
"Everybody that watched the West saw this coming around 65-66 games. I think we all saw this coming. We saw it before we got here. The game 75 [on March 22] that was here was better than any of these games of these playoffs so far. We were on top of it. They were on top of it. It ended up 0-0 (the Kings won 1-0 in a shootout). … When we left the Staples Center we all said, 'Man, whoever gets that team in the playoffs got their hands full.'"
Said forward Jamie Langenbrunner," They're playing a very sound, smart, controlled game. They're forcing us to make mistakes and we've been the one to crack in every game -- and that's kind of been our calling card all year."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- St. Louis held an optional skate and most players practiced as the task at hand crystalizes for the Blues.
It's not only that they've lost games, but the way in which they've gone down is disturbing. St. Louis has not led this series since the first period of Game 1, and coach Ken Hitchcock had a telling quote about being in that unfamiliar position.
"We're not built for coming from behind all the time," Hitchcock said.
St. Louis seemed to take back Game 3 when it tied it at 1 at the start of the second period, but then disintegrated with more undisciplined play and poor goaltending and fell behind by two goals.
"When we do find ourselves playing from behind we tend to do things that are uncharacteristic of us and dig ourselves in a deeper hole," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said.
"We've only played with the lead once in the series and that was short lived. I think we've been a really good team all year playing with the lead. There's no reason things will change now. We just got to find a way to get that lead and carry some sort of positive momentum our way."
The Blues were still at a loss to explain the undisciplined play. They took roughing and slashing penalties in the first period of Game 3 and failed to make Los Angeles retaliate.
Getting a lead in Game 4 would help, but staying at even strength would also go a long way toward extending this series.
"It's huge," Colaiacovo said. "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot by giving then all the momentum. In a series like this we've got to find better ways to control our emotions and make sure we do stay out of the box. Those are some key moments in the game where we took some questionable penalties. Our discipline has to be a lot better in all areas of the game."
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Alex Pietrangelo participated in practice Wednesday but St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't commit to his status for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings.
"He feels OK," Hitchcock said after the Blues' skate. "I don't know. We'll see tomorrow, if he feels OK tomorrow and wants to give it a go, we'll let him go. But it was nice to see him out there and he lasted the whole practice. It was a hard practice and he participated in everything, so we'll see."
Pietrangelo was boarded by Dwight King late in the second period of Game 1. He was at first thought to be concussed but Hitchcock later said it is a lower-body injury. Pietrangelo did not play in L.A.'s 5-2 win on Monday.
Pietrangelo is a major piece of the Blues' power play and his absence translated to an 0 for 9 performance in Game 2. St. Louis is 0 for 12 for the series and 0 for 26 on the season against Los Angeles.
One St. Louis player who didn't skate Wednesday was Jason Arnott. Hitchcock said the veteran center has a lower body injury and is day-to-day.
The Blues skated with Andy McDonald, David Backes and Matt D'Agostini on the first line, Alexander Steen-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie on another line and David Perron, Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Stewart on another. There was no change on the fourth line of Jamie Langenbrunner, Scott Nichol and B.J. Crombeen.
"Don't read the d-pairs in," Hitchcock said. "You can read the forwards in if you want and write those down and see how far you can get with that one but don't take the d-pairs."
Hitchcock continued to credit the Kings for their performance in back-to-back wins in St. Louis and pointed to what his team is up against.
"This opponent has had to be dug in for a long time," Hitchcock said. "L.A. has had to dig in for a long time. And then they had to go through a really good team to get to this level. They're at 100 percent. Their commitment is 100 and we're probably 85, and we know now against L.A. that's not good enough."
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That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.