Sunday, May 6, 2012
Blues refuse to blame injuries for loss
By Pierre LeBrun
LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues didn’t want to use injuries as an excuse for their second-round elimination.
To a man, they stated that the Kings were simply the better team.
But starting with a suspected knee injury that star blueliner Alex Pietrangelo tried to play through and being without No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak for most of the playoffs with a suspected ankle injury, it's clear the Blues were a beat-up bunch.
"We’ll let the injury stuff come out over the next couple of days,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "But, it’s not great."
Captain David Backes also played through some sort of stomach ailment, but he didn’t feel like going there either Sunday.
"I hate that because it's almost like, well, if we didn't have injuries, we would have been a lot better," Backes said. "Well, if there's injuries all year and you've got to find ways to play through it and find ways to overcome it. Those are the little hurdles that you overcome individually and you suck up some pain for the better of the team. If a list of injuries comes out, I'm not going to be very happy because I just think whatever it is, we play through it. ... Or else you take yourself out of the lineup and let someone that is capable and willing and they'll fight through it."
Bottom line, Backes reiterated, the Kings were the better team.
"Those guys are playing as well as anyone, they have a great goaltender and their guys are sticking together, so they get credit," Backes said. "I have a feeling they’re going to go a long way."
A young Blues team that surprised many in winning the tough Central Division came unglued against the Kings. The poise they showed in beating San Jose in the first round was gone by Round 2.
"The biggest thing, looking back on this series, is the personal shift-by-shift discipline when it gets really amped up,” Hitchcock said. "And being around a little while, I think you learn that moving forward. I think you have to experience it so you know what it feels like so you don’t let it happen again."
The Blues will use this as valuable experience when they take another run next year. They’ve got a terrific young core and they’ll be around for a while.
"I think [GM Doug Armstrong] said it best, this is as close as this organization has been to chasing the Cup,” said Hitchcock, who was nominated for the Jack Adams Award this year. "So we want to build on this. I think there’s a lot of lessons here down the line. We’ll talk to the players about that over the coming weeks."