Los Angeles Kings v St. Louis Blues - Game Two

Backes makes pointed comments about Blues’ lack of “buy in”

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The St. Louis Blues’ locker room was an emotional place following a four-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, reports the Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

Which might explain the  comments made by team captain David Backes.

Backes spoke of buy in, sacrifice and commitment — which he said the Kings had more of.

“I hammered a few guys this series and the guy that I hammered was going, ‘Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it,'” Backes said. “I was like, these guys are all-in. They’re ready to play and ready to sacrifice for each other. To me, that was impressive and I just wish that we were able to buy in to it for our benefit.

“That’s the way we played all year, but we got off that page at a time when we were playing a team that was fully committed to that page … taking that punch in the face, sticking your head out there to get hit rather than shying away from physical play.”

The Blues didn’t just shy away from physical play — they also responded to it poorly, according to Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock:

“When the temperature emotionally of the games went up, I think our personal discipline wasn’t there. The little edge you need is a learned skill, and we didn’t have it. So we took penalties at the wrong time. We got emotionally wrapped up in the shift, and couldn’t shut it down when you need to shut it down.”

Retaliatory and poorly-timed penalties unhinged St. Louis throughout:

— In Game 1, the Blues took three third-period penalties (including a double minor) while trying to rally from a one-goal deficit.

— In Game 2, they fell behind 4-0 and took 57 penalty minutes.

— In Game 3, LA scored the game-winner after Jamie Langenbrunner took an interference penalty.

— In Game 4, Scott Nichol derailed the Blues’ third-period comeback effort with a double-minor for high sticking and Matt D’Agostini was whistled for boarding, negating a penalty on the Kings’ Dustin Brown.

Hitchcock suggested the offseason would be one of self-analysis for the Blues.

“There’s some looking in the mirror for some people,” he said. “There will be some frank discussions with other people about us getting to the next level.”

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.