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Blues vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Blues searching for answers after Game 2 loss

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Instead of coming out with a sense of urgency following a Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Blues played without passion and desire in the opening 20 minutes against the confident Kings, who blitzed St. Louis and tossed the Blues into an insurmountable Game 2 hole.

With the Blues down 4-0 after 20 minutes, the clapping of thunder sticks from the 19,366 spectators jammed into Scottrade Center Monday night was replaced by a stunned silence.

By game's end, the Blues are in an 0-2 series hole against a Kings team that heads home with visions of closing out the series with a sweep of Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles.

The Kings start was the kind of beginning the home side was looking for but did not come close to getting, leaving players and coach Ken Hitchcock scratching their heads afterward.

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Blues' Pietrangelo to miss Game 2

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will miss Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night with an undisclosed injury suffered Saturday night in Game 1.

Pietrangelo, the Blues' leader in ice time during the regular season and playoffs, was hurt when he was hit from behind by the Kings' Dwight King late in the second period Saturday night. He missed Sunday's practice, but took part in the morning skate Monday and was said to be a game-time decision.

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Pietrangelo skates, no determination yet on status

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When Alex Pietrangelo surprisingly skated onto the ice for Monday's morning practice prior to Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, it was an early reminder that players will attempt to fight through any type of injury in the playoffs.

But as the St. Louis Blues prepare to face the Los Angeles Kings tonight in Game 2 down 1-0 in the series, everyone will have to wait a few more hours before it's determined if Pietrangelo (undisclosed injury) will be available.

"Right now, he's an injured player," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If he's in the warm-up before the game, he's a player. Right now … we're deciding. He feels good so far. We'll see if he makes it through the rest of the day, but we're not going to put him in the warm-up unless we're going to play him. If he's out there for the pre-game skate tonight, then he's definitely a player.

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Kings aim to continue road success in Game 2

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- The Los Angeles Kings obviously don't mind playing the role of road warriors.

With their 3-1 win at St. Louis Saturday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Kings are now a perfect 4-0 away from Staples Center in the playoffs and 6-0 dating back to last spring.

However, there was no rest for the weary even after gaining a 1-0 series edge, as the Kings got back to work Sunday at the Hardee's Iceplex. But there was a group of players who took in the baseball game Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.

"We've been treating each game as an individual game," said Kings winger Dustin Penner, who tallied a goal and an assist Saturday night. "I know it's cliche to say that, but it's a lot harder to do it and not look too far ahead. We've just been playing every game as a one-game season."

"We're going to have to be because we're only .500 at home," added Kings coach Darryl Sutter, whose team split two home games in the first round with Vancouver. "That won't get you very far."

The eighth-seeded Kings fell behind the Blues 1-0 Saturday, and had it not been for some timely, clutch saves from Jonathan Quick early in the game, the deficit could have been bigger.

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Blues mix up lines, look to repeat first round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues got back on the ice Sunday morning, and the mentality is exactly the same as it was after Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The Blues, who trailed the San Jose Sharks after losing the series opener, are faced with the same scenario after dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings. After their loss in the opening round, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock made some lineup changes that would suit the Blues' needs more. They went on to win four straight to bounce the Sharks in five.

Could there be more changes in store for Monday's Game 2?

"I wouldn't read anything into the lines at practice today," Hitchcock said. "I wouldn't read one thing into them. ... But it was fun watching them practice."

The Blues did switch their top two centers [David Backes and Patrik Berglund] for Sunday's practice, with Backes playing between Alex Steen and Andy McDonald and Berglund between David Perron and T.J. Oshie.

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Pietrangelo's status creates uncertainty for Blues

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- A day after losing Alex Pietrangelo with an upper-body injury late in the second period, the St. Louis Blues are in a state of uncertainty regarding their top defenseman's availability Monday night.

Pietrangelo, who was pushed into the end boards in the Blues' zone by the Los Angeles Kings' Dwight King late in the second period during Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, was on the ice for the ensuing faceoff, in which Los Angeles scored a shorthanded goal after King was issued a two-minute minor for boarding. Pietrangelo left the game and did not return for the third period of the 3-1 win by the Kings.

"He's day to day, upper body," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We'll see tomorrow.

"Just don't be writing him off yet."

When asked if he looked at the hit on video, Hitchcock was looking to close the discussion.

"Why don't we leave that for the league," he said. "I'm more worried about Petro and our group. Everybody's made their comments, we've all seen the written stuff. Let's just let them comment. Let's move on to Game 2."

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Top picks Doughty, Pietrangelo make early impact

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The evolution of a player from starting an NHL career to firmly establishing his presence often takes a significant amount of time. It can be measured in a number of years before a player's potential is in full bloom.

But looking at the draft class of 2008, particularly among the defensemen, they've made their mark on the NHL in such a short span.

And when the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues lock horns in the upcoming Western Conference Semifinals, No. 2 pick Drew Doughty and No. 4 selection Alex Pietrangelo will have their own personal battle to wage.

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Blues, Kings eager to drop puck on battle of a series

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

 

ST. LOUIS -- Now that a week's worth of preparation between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings has come to a conclusion and with Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) fast approaching, both teams are showing signs of anxiety.

To coin a simple phrase: Let's get the show started.

"We feel like we're ready to go," Blues winger Alex Steen said. "Now it's just an excitement to get going. [Saturday] it will be nice. The day comes and you get back into your game-day routine. It'll be a good atmosphere.

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Pressure will be on Blues' power play against Kings

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues' success on the power play in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against San Jose was one of the key factors in why they were able to move on.

The Blues were 6-for-18 (33.3 percent) -- second among the 16 playoff teams -- against a Sharks team that had been exposed all season; they were 29th in the NHL during the regular season.

But as the Blues prepare for the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings, they'll be facing a more dangerous animal when on the power play.

The Kings' penalty kill was fourth in the regular season, only allowing 38 goals on 293 opportunities (87 percent), and they killed off 18 of 21 power play chances by Vancouver in their first-round upset.

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Kings' Mitchell still looking for ways to get better

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings practice has been over for at least 30 minutes and there are only three players on the ice.

Extra skaters Kevin Westgarth and Scott Parse do some drills at one end, while a metronome-like cadence of slap shots can be heard at the other.

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

Willie Mitchell takes pucks off the line. Thwack! Hard slaps from the point. Thwack! It's a post-practice routine he's incorporated later in his career, although it doesn't usually last this long.

However, it's days before the Western Conference Semifinals, and Mitchell wants to be ready.

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure