Blues Anxious to Get Started Tonight vs. Kings
Friday, 04.27.2012 / 11:57 AM
It's been exactly one week since the Blues wrapped up their first round best-of-7 series with a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks, giving the team their longest layoff since the NHL All-Star Break.
With all that time off, is there any reason to be concerned about the Blues starting flat?
"You can go either way," said veteran Scott Nichol, who went to the Western Conference Finals as a member of the Sharks the last two seasons. "It's nice to rest up and heal up a little bit. We just have to control our emotions. We have a young team here and we have to play between the whistles and stay out of the stuff after."
"I think all of us watched the game last night (between Nashville and Phoenix), and Nashville was rusty," Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That's the fear of any coach coming into any of these competitions. You don't want to be rusty. All of us are hoping we've done everything. I don't think we have the exact answer to that science, but I think all of us are a little bit nervous (because) you don't want to start the game rusty.
"We're hoping we're ready for it and we're hoping we can get our game out there in a hurry."
To give the long layoff some perspective, following a 10-day break for All-Star Weekend in late January, the Blues won 5 of their next 6 games, including a 1-0 victory over Los Angeles in their first game back on Feb. 3.
"It's been a long week, a lot of practice and a lot of things we've gone over," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "We're excited to get this thing going and jump into it. Watching the Nashville game last night kind of gives that itch to get things started, so we're pretty excited."
A NEW ELEMENT
During the regular season, the Blues went 1-2-1 vs. Los Angeles but played all four games without Andy McDonald, who is red-hot entering this series.
McDonald set a career-high for scoring in one playoff series in Round 1 vs. San Jose, scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in just five games, tying him for third among all skaters in points this postseason. He leads all players with 6 power-play points.
The Blues are hoping McDonald will add a new element the Kings haven't seen before.
"Everyone thinks it's going to be a 1-0 game, but playoffs are so different when the level gets cranked up," Nichol said. "I know we have two of the best defensive teams in the league so something's got to give. You want to score that first goal and then maybe it will open up a little bit and we can get another one.
"That's kind of our plan right now."
With McDonald in the lineup, the Blues are 4-0-0 against Los Angeles since Dec. 2009. McDonald has 38 points (8 goals, 30 assists) in 46 career games vs. LA.
- Tonight will be the third time in history the Blues and Kings have met in a playoff series. The Blues have swept the Kings in both previous meetings (1968-69 and 1997-98).
- Brian Elliott will be in goal tonight for Game 1. Earlier this week, Hitchcock said Jaroslav Halak is improving from his lower-body injury suffered in Round 1 but has been ruled out to play in either of the first two games against the Kings. Jake Allen will serve as the backup.
- The Blues will hold a pregame rally outside Scottrade Center prior to tonight's game. The rally kicks off at 4 p.m. and will feature live music from Whiskey Dixon, prize giveaways and more. Fans that post a photo of themselves at the rally on Twitter should use the hashtag: #bluesrally to be entered to win autographed merchandise.
- Fans coming from the Illinois side should note that Westbound I-64/40 is closed from Broadway to 10th Street. Plan accordingly and leave extra time for travel to the game. Puck drop is at 6:30 p.m.
- Tonight's game is available on NBC Sports Network and KMOX 1120 AM.