April 30, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) checks Los Angeles Kings center Colin Fraser (24) during the third period in game two of the 2012 Western Conference semifinals at Scottrade Center. The Kings defeated the Blues 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
A quick guide to why the Blues lost game 2 and who you should hate on the LA Kings:
- They took out one of the Blues best players in Game 1. In game 1, the Kings #74, Dwight King, put defenseman Alex Pietrangelo into the boards in the second period knocking him out for the better part of Game 1 and all of Game 2. He received just a 2 minute minor for the offense. Pietragelo was one of the top offensive players during the regular season with 51 points (12 goals & 39 assists). Shortly into the first period of Game 2, King and BJ Crombeen, one of the Blues brawlers, went at it to settle the score. King promptly kicked Crombeen's butt.
- They took out Jamie Langenbrunner in Game 2. Second verse, same as the first. Langenbrunner is a long time vet having played in the NHL since 1994 and was a part of multiple Olympic teams for the United States. All of the mythical arguments for veteran-ness you hear in baseball, you'll hear about in hockey too. If you like those arguments in baseball, you'll probably like them in hockey. From a pure talent/on-the-ice perspective, Langenbrunner is an important piece for the Blues offense in terms of line depth.
- Dustin Penner is a thug. I don't begrudge the Kings their thug -- though they seem to have several more than the Blues - but Penner is on a special level right now. He's huge, coming in at 6'4" 245, and he was clearly in the heads of the Blues during Game 2.
- Dustin Brown has come alive in the playoffs. Brown leads the team in goals and assists during the playoffs. He's been a part of most, if not all, the Kings short handed goals this post-season. He's on another level right now and the Blues failed to shut him down in Game 2 when he had 3 assists.
- Jonathan Quick. The Kings goalie, Quick, is playing great hockey right now. I always hate the other teams goalies when they are playing well. He is also kind of an asshole taking some cheap shots at the Blues in Game 2 when the opportunity presented itself.
LA is a physical team. They don't just take the occasional opportunity to hit you, they take every occasion to hit you -- warranted or not, legal or not. They put the hurt on the Blues in the first period of Game 2 and the Blues struggled to cope with it. The Blues have several key skill players who aren't necessarily heavy hitters -- Andy MacDonald and David Perron being noteworthy examples -- and this can leave them vulnerable to teams that play physically smothering hockey. The Blues also look mentally inconsistent at times with some truly awful defensive plays -- the loss of Jaroslav Halak to Barrett Jackman and Carlos Colaiacovo's turnover for the second goal in this series stick out.
The Blues need to find a way to deal with the physicality of the Kings and keep the mental lapses to a minimum. They aren't out of this yet but they've dug themselves a fine hole. Tonight's game is the first step to getting out of that hole.