Doughty Faces Possible Suspension
The third period has been unkind to the St. Louis Blues as they suffer their first regulation loss in the Ken Hitchcock era.
Hitchcock was visibly upset during his post-game gathering of the minds with the media before the team headed off to Pittsburgh for a showdown with Crosby and company tonight.
D-man Barret Jackman uncharacteristically coughed up two pucks that would eventually land on the stick of Kings forward Mike Richards.
On the first one it appeared Jackman was going to use his forehand and throw the puck up the wall but instead went to his backhand in an attempt to feed David Backes up the middle of the ice. The veteran D-man admitted it was simply a “bad read” on his part.
Anze Koptiar was all alone in front of Jaroslav Halak before tapping in a feed from Richards. Kopitar and Richards were basically invisible up to this point of the game.
Once again Halak deserved better as the Blues failed to give him much offense. We’ve been saying for a while the Blues better find a way to bury their chances offensively. Patrik Berglund once again had numerous opportunities to extend the Blues lead but was unable to capitalize. This includes a two-on-one rush where he inexplicably went high short side with a streaking Blues player going hard to the net. In fairness LA goaltender Jonathan Bernier made some very good saves including a few that robbed Berglund.
Alex Steen and Vladimir Sobotka scored goals for the Blues as these two continue to be among the Blues most consistent forwards. David Backes should be included in this category as well along with T.J Oshie who has elevated his game with Hitchcock behind the bench.
The patience Sobotka showed at the blue line after receiving a stretch from Kris Russell was impressive. He could have easily just deflected the puck deep into the LA zone but elected to hang onto it which led to Matt D’Agostini feeding Sobotka in front of the net to tie the game at 2-2.
The Kings would regain the lead just moments later as Oshie failed to get the red line and get the puck deep before heading off the ice. Willie Mitchell scored the game winner for the Kings just seconds later.
Backes took a pounding in front of the net all night on the power play as the Blues were too perimeter oriented with the man advantage. St. Louis certainly got away from their shot-first mentality we’ve witnessed in recent games.
Speaking of Steen, how different does the Langenbrunner and Arnott line look without Steen on the left side? With respect to Chris Porter he probably isn’t the best option to play with these two.
St. Louis was shorthanded once again playing without the likes of David Perron, Andy McDonald, Carlo Colaiacovo, and Chris Stewart who served his third and final game of his suspension.
Evgeny Grachev is seeing less ice time by the game. He proved he’s unable to play a top six role when given the opportunity and is once again relegated to fourth line duty where he played just 4:52 and was a minus-1 for the game.
The Blues had blocked only eleven shots on the game and won just 40% of their face-offs. Mike Richards had something to do with this winning 15 of his 16 face-offs good for 94% on the night, wow!
Is Kings D-man Drew Doughty headed for Shanahan court?
Based on what we saw a week ago with the Stewart hit on Niklas Kronwall a suspension to Doughty appears to be a safe assumption.
I don’t know what Doughty was thinking as just one second remained on the clock late in the third period. Doughty extended his stick before cross-checking Oshie hard into the boards.
After the game I caught up with Doughty…
“I thought he turned at the last minute, I was just trying to finish my man. I saw him take a peak and maybe I should have done a shoulder hit as opposed to a cross-check but I had no intention of hurting him and I hope he’s ok.”
Following the game I was told Oshie, who was also nursing a sore wrist, was fine. Hitchcock also suggested Oshie was “good”.
I had a Blues player after the game tell me “If the Stewart hit was worth three games then this is worth at least that much.”
More to come,
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