The Blues hope to get defenseman Alex Pietrangelo back from his injuries, but it will take a team-wide effort to get St. Louis out of its surprising funk vs. the Kings. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Stu Hackel
What a curious little theme we’ve had going recently in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs — addition by subtraction. The Devils were forced to play without sniper Ilya Kovalchuk and came up with a fine road performance in beating the Flyers 4-1 on Tuesday. The Capitals cut into Alex Ovechkin’s ice time in Monday’s Game 2 and beat the Rangers 3-2 (although he was certainly out there a lot in Game 3′s near-doubleheader loss to New York). The Predators, playing poorly and down 2-0 in games to the Coyotes, suspended their two top scorers for Wednesday’s Game 3 at home and pulled off one of their trademark textbook victories, a 2-0 Pekka Rinne shutout.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way for the Blues earlier this week. They were without their best defenseman — maybe their best player — in Alex Pietrangelo for Game 2 at home against the Kings, and rather than respond positively to the adversity, they played their worst period in memory, falling behind 4-0, never recovering, and ultimately losing 5-2. Now, they must skate in Los Angeles for the next pair, and the upstart Kings have a chance to put them in the sleeperhold.