Pietrangelo Set to Return for Game 3
Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 2:58 PM
Alex Pietrangelo will return to the lineup tonight when the Blues meet the Kings in Game 3 at Staples Center.
Pietrangelo missed one game after being shoved into the boards by Kings' forward Dwight King in Game 1, but he participated in a full practice Wednesday and Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock declared him good to go after Thursday's gameday skate.
"It's huge. He's arguably our best player," Hitchcock said Thursday. "When you have a player who touches all three aspects of your game, five-on-five, (penalty kill) and (power play), and then he leaves the game quickly, there's a huge adjustment you have to go through. Getting him back is huge for us and hopefully we can surround him with better play.
"It's hard to believe that one player makes that big of a difference, but obvously in our game, he did. So we're hoping the whole stability part gets back to our team where we've got the right players playing in the right situations."
Hitchcock also said that Pietrangelo wouldn't be eased back into the lineup. Instead, expect him to get plenty of ice time.
"There's going to be no tie down on allowing him to play the minutes. He's going to have to play big minutes, he knows that, so we waited until the last possible minute where he could play with no reservations. He's there now."
MORE COMMITMENT NECESSARY
Hitchcock said Wednesday that he needs more commitment out of his players if they expect to overcome a 2-0 deficit in this best-of-7 series.
"(The Kings') commitment is 100 (percent) and we're probably at 85," Hitchcock said. "We know now against LA, that's not good enough...85 isn't getting it done. It may have (been good enough) last series, but not now."
That being said, Hitchcock expects a strong effort out of his team tonight in Game 3.
"I think our players are excited being back together again and back on the road again," he said. "That's why I think we're going to play our best game tonight."
Blues Captain David Backes said the team needs to be better when on the power play.
"Our power play hasn't scored a goal (in this series), but we at least need to gain momentum or be a threat on the power play," Backes said. "Without that, they are able to take liberties at us and go outside their comfort zone and push that edge even further. If we're a threat on the power play and not getting scored on, all of a sudden they may be a little more hesitant to go that extra mile and get in trouble. Right now, they've got no reason not to take all the penalities and live on the edge, because not only are we not scoring, but they're getting opportunities and goals against us."
The Blues have given up a shorthanded goal in both games thus far in the series, while the power play has been 0-for-12.
- Although the team is down two-games-to-none, Backes notes that a key to the Blues' regular season success has been their ability to bounce back. "We've been able to turn the tides when we've lost a couple in a row and get back on track many times this year," Backes said. "We didn't get in lulls that lasted extended periods of time. We were able to snap out, identify what was wrong and come together as a group."
- The Blues are holding an Official Watch Party at the Budweiser Kiel Club inside Peabody Opera House. Doors open at 8 p.m. CT tonight and the puck drops at 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. Food and beverage will be available for purchase at the event, which will also feature appearances by Louie, in-game host Angella. There will also be prize giveaways and intermission games.
- Game 3 starts at 9 p.m. CT and is available on the NBC Sports Network and KMOX 1120 AM.