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.”