By Dan O'Neill in St. Louis
Defenceman Alex Pietrangelo did not skate with the Blues on Sunday and his status remains uncertain as the Western Conference semifinal series between St. Louis and Los Angeles progresses.
"He's day to day, upper body ... we'll see [Monday]," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Pietrangelo departed Game 1 late in the second period on Saturday. Shoved from behind by Kings forward Dwight King, Pietrangelo crashed into the boards face first. King was given a two-minute boarding penalty.
Shaken up and cut on the chin, Pietrangelo returned to the ice initially. But after the Kings scored a shorthanded goal, he retired to the dressing room and did not return after intermission. He has been evaluated for concussion symptoms.
Kay Whitmore, NHL supervisor of officials for the series, talked to a pool reporter after the game
"[The referees] see the whole play unfold and they didn't deem in this instance obviously that King drove [Pietrangelo] into the boards,"' Whitmore said. "It was a hit, he was in a vulnerable position, but they didn't deem it violent enough to call a major."
As of early Sunday afternoon, the Kings had not heard from the league concerning a disciplinary hearing for King. That could change, particularly if Pietrangelo is out for an extended period. Kings coach Darryl Sutter doesn't believe a hearing is called for.
"It's not even a hit," Sutter said. "It's an arm out and the player's going that way. [King's] not a player who does that. It's a tough game.
"But it's not my business. It depends on which side your on, eh? And I'm in the middle."
Regardless of what happens, it's a poor trade for the Blues. King is a grinder for Los Angeles. Pietrangelo is the Blues' quarterback.
"He's probably our best player," Blues captain David Backes said of Pietrangelo. "And to see him go out, and them get a two-minute penalty - that's a pretty good trade when their third line gets a two-minute penalty and our best player is out for the rest of the game. It's unfortunate."
Pietrangelo had been averaging more than 26 minutes per game during the postseason, tops on the Blues. He plays important minutes in all situations - power play and penalty kill included.
If he is unavailable for Game 2, the Blues will insert 23-year old defenceman Ian Cole, who has not appeared in a game since March 22. The Notre Dame product is a lefthanded-shooting defender, but he played on the right side while partnering with Carlo Colaiacovo at practice on Sunday.
A No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, Cole has 56 games of NHL experience over the last two seasons. He would be making his postseason debut.
"We just think Cole has gotten really better in the last month since he's been practicing," Hitchcock said. "He's also a guy that can play the right side, plays it well. So we've had him practice over there a lot, and he's looked very good ... actually he's looked better on the right sometimes than the left, so that's good for us.
"It's just an easy switch. [Cole and Colaiacovo] practiced together when Carlo was coming back from injury. They practiced together and they looked good as a tandem."
The Blues could dress a seventh defenceman for Game 2, which would put veteran Kent Huskins in the mix. Pietrangelo averaged more than three minutes of ice time per game killing penalties during the regular season, a situation Huskins could help.
"One of the things, if 'Petro' doesn't play, we've got to look at the penalty-kill minutes," Hitchcock added. "Husky is really good at PK. So, whether we do seven and 11 or six and 12, we've got to decide that here in the next 24 hours or so."
Dan O'Neill reports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @wwdod
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