The St. Louis Blues find themselves down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings in the best of seven Western Conference Semifinals. This Blues team in the first two games against the Kings is a very different one than we saw in the first series against the San Jose Sharks.
Game one took place Saturday, April 28th. The Blues came out strong and fast and took an early lead from a David Backes tip off of Alex Pietrangelo’s drive from the right point. The crowd loved the start, but the Blues could not keep up the tempo and started trailing off. Kings’ forward Slava Noynov got his first of the playoffs late in the first to tie it up.
The second period is where it really started going downhill for the Blues. The Blues struggled to get the puck out of their zone and make tape to tape passes, thus preventing them from having many offensive opportunities. Then late in the period, Pietrangelo was checked from behind and had his head driven into the boards by Dwight King. Officials only called a minor penalty on the play instead of the five minute major the Blues and fans thought it should be. A healthy Pietrangelo is vital to the Blues power play, but after the hit he took, it was questionable whether he should be on the ice.
However, Coach Hitchcock played him, knowing how important it was for the Blues to score with the man advantage. Unfortunately for the Blues, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had a costly turnover during the power play, and Kings winger Dustin Brown was able to skate right down the middle of the ice and get a shot on Elliott. With no forwards hustling back and a dazed Pietrangelo, Kings defenseman Matt Greene buried the rebound, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead. After the shorthanded goal, Pietrangelo was taken out of the game. In the third period, the Blues found themselves on the penalty kill for eight minutes. Although the Blues were able to kill off the 20 minutes of penalties they took throughout the game, they struggled to get any offense going. Dustin Penner sealed the deal for the Kings with an empty net goal 15 seconds left in the game.
The Blues were looking to rebound Monday, April 30th, in game two. With Pietrangelo still out, the Blues needed everyone to step up, especially T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and David Perron. As the Blues top line, the club is expecting a lot more offense from them, but they haven’t been able to deliver during the playoffs. However, the Kings came out strong with Mike Richards scoring just 31 seconds into the game and setting the tone. Anze Kopitar was next to score off a feed from Dustin Brown. Then Jeff Carter added another one for the Kings, firing the puck over Elliott’s glove had for his first of the playoffs.
With just 16 seconds left in the first period, Kopitar scored top shelf, giving the Kings a 4-0 lead. Andy McDonald got off to a fast start, putting the Blues on the board only 18 seconds into the second period, but that excitement was short-lived when Justin Williams regained the four goal lead for the Kings 68 seconds later. Matt D’Agostini was able to net one in the third period, but it was too little too late for the Blues. The Blues fell 5-2 to the Kings. This is only the third time under Coach Hitchcock that the Blues surrendered five goals in one game.
The Blues took the day off on Monday to reflect upon the past two games and their commitment to the Blues Playoff cause or lack thereof. They flew to Los Angeles on Wednesday and practiced at 3pm. Game three is Thursday, May 3rd, at 9pm in Los Angeles. Luckily for the Blues, they are 2-0 on the road this postseason, and the Kings are only 1-1 at home. Hopefully, the Blues will dig deep and play with the sense of desperation they need to have to start a comeback in this series.