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04-24-2012, 09:33 AM
  #121
SuperAlmeida
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Ken Hitchock tries to jinx us!

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ST. LOUIS -- While the St. Louis Blues still don't know when they will begin their second-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, coach Ken Hitchcock is laying some pretty good groundwork.

Especially after watching the eighth-seeded Kings bump top-seeded Vancouver out of the playoffs in five games with a 2-1 overtime victory on Sunday.

"When you beat the Presidents Trophy winner, you become the No. 1 seed and I think everybody knows that," said Hitchcock, whose second-seeded Blues will enjoy home-ice advantage for the series. "Obviously when you beat the Presidents Trophy winner, that's very significant. To win it in five games gets the whole world's attention.


"We all know how good they are and how strong of a team they've got."

They should, the Blues lost three of four to the Kings during the regular season.

While San Jose never backed off from physical play in the Blues' Round 1 victory, Hitchcock said to expect another level of intensity from the Kings.

"L.A. plays nasty. They play real nasty," he said. "They, to a man, play with an edge. They follow the coach's orders and they finish all the checks, they don't swing away on anything.

"They won all the board battles (Sunday), that's why they won the hockey game. They play with a level of commitment to physical play that's going to be a challenge for any team, so we're first up."

Does Hitchcock want the Blues to answer the Kings' rough stuff with some of their own? Not necessarily.

"No, I think it's important that we fight through things," Hitchcock said. "By the time this thing settles...everybody;s going to know with what's left that there's a fighting chance for everybody.

"I think it gets amped up because there's only eight teams left and some of the favorites are gone now..the Detroits and Vancouvers, they're gone now...Pittsburgh...so everybody's gotta think 'Man, we've got a chance of a lifetime here."'

The Blues have to wait for the league's other first-round series to end before finding out their Round 2 schedule.

Making things tougher is the Kings' home arena is currently the host to not only a hockey team, but also the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

All three teams will be in the playoffs, creating a major scheduling dilemma.

"A lot of guys would like to know what the schedule is," Blues captain David Backes said after practice on Monday. "There's an uneasiness of not knowing if it's Thursday, if it's Friday, Saturday. Whatever it's going to be, just to have that schedule so you can put in preparation and a timeline would be nice.

"The guys in here are anxious, they're excited. There's a lot of energy here after a day off and it was a good day of practice."

The Blues and Kings mirror each other with high-end skill, young talent, solid defense and shutdown goaltending.

"I think Perry (David Perron) said something on Twitter (how) it's going to be the first game that's zero to negative-one," joked Backes. "We like those types of games, those one-goal games and low scoring. That's our style."

Halak ruled out

Injured Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been ruled out for the first two games of the teams' second-round series against Los Angeles. The announcement was made Monday after practice by Hitchcock.

Blues goalie Brian Elliott came on in relief of Halak to finish off the win in Game 2 against the Sharks, then won three straight games to close out the series.

Halak suffered a lower-body injury, believed to be an ankle injury, during a collision with Blues defenseman Barret Jackman in the second period of Game 2.

"Jaro is not going to be around for the first two games and then we'll see from there," Hitchcock said of Halak, who was supposed to skate on his own Sunday.

Elliott led the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average and posted nine shutouts, so Hitchcock is quickly tiring of questions about his validity as a starter.

"He's been good for such a long time we just expect it," Hitchcock said. "Everybody talks around the league this is a surprise. Well I don't know why it's a surprise when your body of work the whole year...you look the same every night.

"He's just a good goalie and we're lucky. We're lucky we've got a guy like him."

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Last edited by SuperAlmeida: 04-24-2012 at 09:38 AM.
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