LOS ANGELES - In Game 3 of the Western Conference quarter-finals series, the Los Angeles Kings dressed seven defencemen and only 11 forwards.
Forward Jordan Nolan came out of the lineup and Alec Martinez was in. The tweak seemed to pay off in a 1-0 victory
over the St. Louis Blues, as Martinez assisted on the L.A. goal. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Kings stick with the unconventional lineup for Game 4
on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports, 10 p.m. ET).
"It was, I think, a nice change," defenceman Robyn Regehr said. "It worked out really well. I think Marty stepped in and played really well...So that was huge for him.
"For us as defencemen, we've really got to make sure we're paying attention on the bench with seven defencemen, because you're not always going out there with the same partners, being an odd number.
"[Coach Darryl Sutter] is rotating through different players, so you've got to make sure that you're aware of who's up next and who you're called for."
Cinco De Martinez
Martinez had a little fun at practice on Sunday, or "Cinco de Mayo." He took the ice while wearing a sombrero that coach Sutter claimed to have purchased at a liquor store early Sunday morning. Martinez also was wearing red white and green practice gear, a tribute to his Spanish heritage.
"It's all in fun," he said. "I think that it's important, obviously - the playoffs are a very revved up time of the year, and if you can get a good laugh in and keep things light, especially on a non-game day, it can release some tension."
More important, perhaps, was what he contributed to the team's win on Saturday.
"He was fine," coach Darryl Sutter said. "Got up the ice and got involved in some plays and moved pucks. It's what you want him to do."
As he left his press conference after Saturday's 1-0 loss to Los Angeles on Saturday, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was overheard telling rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko, "Get ready to play."
After a practice on Sunday, Hitchcock hedged on that statement a bit. Tarasenko, 21, has been a healthy scratch in the first three games of the series. But the Blues could use some scoring help, having been blanked in Game 3 and producing just three regulation goals in three games.
Whether Tarasenko makes his NHL playoff debut in Game 4 remains uncertain.
"I haven't gotten that far yet," Hitchcock said. "That's [Monday's] decision. I'll have to sleep on a lot of that stuff just to see what we need. I think he looks hungry and ready to play and I'm sure he's going to play well when he gets in.
"But you're not really sure if you want to screw around with the lineup right now when we're playing so well, so I've got to balance that out right now."
Tarasenko got off to a fast start in his rookie season, with five goals and 10 points in his initial eight games. But he did not score a goal in his last 15 games, dating back to a two-goal performance against L.A. on March 28.
Both teams getting scoring chances
According to statistics the Blues keep, they led the Kings 21-13 in scoring chances in Game 3.
"I think what would concern both teams is if there was no scoring chances in the game, but that's the furthest thing from the truth right now," Hitchcock said. "There's arguably almost 40 scoring chances a game, which is a lot for such low-scoring games."
Blues forward Jaden Schwartz was hobbling a bit after Saturday night's game. But the rookie, who has been among the Blues' best players in the series, was on the ice Sunday and said he was fit afterward.
"I got a little bit twisted up when I fell into the boards, but it's fine now," Schwartz said. "I just wanted to see how it feels - a short little skate for the team - but it was good to get out there and feel the puck a little bit."
Hitchcock said Sunday that his entire roster is healthy.
"We've got everybody that played last game available to us, so we'll just see from there," he added.
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