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Kings deal with series deficit, unusual start time

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The Los Angeles Kings never faced with a series deficit en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, so losing Game 1 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday has left them in unfamiliar territory.

Heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Blues on Thursday night (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC), the Kings are looking for a road split to take with them back to Los Angeles.

However, after losing 2-1 in overtime in Game 1, the Kings are faced with the notion of falling back 0-2 if the Blues prevail in Game 2.

"We're thinking about us and what we have to do," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "In Game 1, we definitely weren't on our game. That's what hurt us. They did some good things, of course, but it was about us and how we competed. It wasn't to the level that it needed to be."

So in turn, coach Darryl Sutter will insert veteran forward Colin Fraser into the lineup, replacing Brad Richardson. However, the biggest change is reuniting his top line of Kopitar with Dustin Brown and Justin Williams.

"We've played 46 games together, so it's definitely familiar territory," Kopitar said. "I guess in the short time like it is in the playoffs, it's always nice."

Sutter's thinking is to get his left wings more involved.

"We move our left wings around a lot," Sutter said. "I didn't like the way our left wings matched up the other night. I've coached against Ken [Hitchcock, Blues coach] a long time and pretty much know how much he likes to use matchups and what we do. So we know that [Jay] Bouwmeester … and 27 [Alex Pietrangelo] are going to be out there a lot when [Kopitar] is on the ice. That's a fact, and if 42 [David Backes] is out there, then so be it. But it trickles out from there. Our left wingers have to do a better job against players on their team."

Fraser, who was a key part of the Kings' run a season ago, hopes to provide the kind of boost that the Blues got from fourth-liners Ryan Reaves, Adam Cracknell and Chris Porter.

"I try to fill a role as best I can, an energy role, a fourth-line role, much like their line did in the first game," Fraser said. "Our line is going to have to counter that [Thursday] and be just as good as they were."

The game will start at 8:30 p.m. local time, which is highly unusual. Players will have to adapt to the time change and, according to Sutter, it also affects the next game.

"You just have to throw the clock away and do it like it's game day and not even think about what time it is," said Sutter, who also joked about it. "I'm sure every team does it … have their little team meeting at 7 o'clock.

"It's kind of odd. What it affects is the next part of it, the travel. We know we're getting home sometime between 2:30 [a.m.] and 4:30 [a.m.]. If there's three overtimes, we'll play two games [Thursday] and you get home at 4:30. If you play one game [Thursday], we'll be home at 2:30. That's sort of the next part of it, how you recover for your next game."

To which Hitchcock also joked: "Better not get to overtime or I'm going to be asleep on the bench."

"The gap from now until 8:30, there better be some good games on at 6 o'clock when we're sitting in the office twiddling our thumbs," he added. "It's a long, long day. I've never seen anything like this, so this will be interesting."

Hitchcock said he expects a big push from the champs.

"Same as we got last year, same as we got in the second half of the game [Tuesday]," Hitchcock said. "Our first game got their attention, so I'm sure that we're going to get one of their better games, so we've got to be ready for it."

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