Pietrangelo's status creates uncertainty for Blues
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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Pietrangelo's teammates were searching for ways to move on themselves in case they would have to do so without their leading minutes guy with Game 2 slated for Monday night.
"I haven't seen him today. I talked to him last night. He seemed to be in quite a bit of pain," defensive partner Carlo Colaiacovo said. "Hopefully, he woke up this morning and felt a lot better. I haven't seen him today, I haven't talked to him today. Hopefully he's good enough to go tomorrow. We'll wait for tomorrow.
"He's still got 24 hours to get himself ready. If it happens, great. We obviously need him in our lineup. He's a big part of our team. If he's not, hopefully he'll be back soon. In the meantime, we have guys capable in here of stepping up. They're going to have no choice but to. We're a team in here. That's got to be our focus."
Added captain David Backes: "Hopefully he's in the lineup but if not, we're going to have to push through. He's a big part of our team, but we're going to have someone else fill that role and take some responsibility. We've been filling holes and taking more responsibility all year. This is no change."
The Kings don't feel like things change in their outlook if Pietrangelo doesn't play.
"It's not going to change a whole lot," Kings center Anze Kopitar said via conference call. "We have to focus on what we have to do, regardless if he's in the lineup or not. We just have to go out and play our game.
"[Pietrangelo's] playing against the top players on the other team pretty much every night and he's obviously a big part of their power play. It's not good for the team, but again, we have to focus on us, what we have to do to make us successful."
No disciplinary action has been announced by the NHL and Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn't expect to hear anything either.
"Not really," Sutter said. "You guys asked last night and quite honestly, it's none of my business. It's your business to ask and that's it.
"It's as much the player [on the receiving end] himself. I watched it and I care about that stuff. It's as much as Pietrangelo's own ... whatever you want to call it -- him going that way. It's not even a hit. It's an arm. It's not a player that does that, and that's all that is. It depends on which side you're on, and I'm in the middle. It's a tough game, right? That's a fact. If you guys want to take hitting out then we'll see how exciting [hockey] is."
Hitchcock said the Blues will look to insert Ian Cole into the lineup if Pietrangelo can't go. But there's also the possibility of going with 11 forwards and seven defenseman, which would also put veteran defenseman Kent Huskins in as well.
"Yeah, [Cole] comes in," Hitchcock said. "Whether we go to seven-11 or not, we'll see. One of the things is if Petro doesn't play, we've got to look at the PK minutes. Husky's really good at killing PK. Whether we do 11 and seven or 12 and six, we've got to decide that here sometime in the next 24 hours or so."
If Cole plays, he would be making his postseason debut.
"We just think Cole's gotten really better in the last month since he's been practicing," Hitchcock said. "He's looked really good. He's also a guy that can play the right side, plays it well. We've had him practice over there a lot. He's looked very good. Actually, he's looked better on the right sometimes than the left. That's good for us. It's an easy switch. They practiced together when Carlo was coming back from his injury and they looked good as a tandem."