(HockeyStL) -- The St. Louis Blues may have shown their lack of experience when the team failed to maintain an early two-goal lead against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4.
Hours before his team takes to the ice in Game 5, Ken Hitchcock said the odd-man rushes came when his team was trying to force offense and let the emotion get the better of them in the 4-3 loss.
“That’s just part of the maturity process of a young team trying to learn how to win against a really good team,” Hitchcock said. “I thought that’s the one thing we’re guilty of -- trying to hit the knockout punch way too early, and got caught pushing down and gave up odd-man rushes, and let them back in the game.”
It was especially tough for the line consisting of Patrik Berglund, David Perron and T.J. Oshie. The trio combined for a minus-nine rating despite scoring two goals and four points.
Oshie, who potted two goals, called it one of his worst games played.
“It’s tough,” Oshie said. “I think we got back to where we were maybe a little over a month ago -- maybe a little longer than that when we were going rush-for-rush with teams. We were getting into scoring battles. You look at the first two games (of this series) how low scoring those were and how limited we kept their chances, and I think that’s the way we got to play tonight.”
Hitchcock hasn’t lost faith in the line after the rough Game 4 performance and wouldn’t be surprised if they rebound with the series back at the Scottrade Center.
“Wherever we put (Oshie), that line plays the right way and when it doesn’t he grabs it right away and gets it to play the right way,” Hitchcock said. “That’s why I think the Berglund line was terrific in Games 2 and 3 and it wouldn’t surprise me that they were good again tonight. They had a subpar effort, they know it and they will jump back.”
With each game being decided by one goal, it’s become one of the more physical matchups in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re not shopping at the mall,” Hitchcock said. “This is a very emotional series so sometimes it gets stretched out a little bit. I’m not worried about it and I don’t think they’re worried about it. I told you before at the start of the series, I wish the referees would just sit in the fifth row, the teams will decide it.”
Hitchcock noted that the penalties after whistle are hard not to take at times considering the emotions are running high.
“Both teams know what is at stake, but sometimes you can’t just shut it off at the whistle,” Hitchcock said. “It’s awful hard to do when you’re getting smacked around, you’re getting a smelly glove to the face. It’s hard to shut it off at the whistle.”
Hitchcock believes the teams will stay more calm after the whistle blows during the next couple of games with the series being within reach for both teams to capture.
The best-of-seven series now boils down to a best-of-three series with the teams each winning their two games at home to start the series. The race to win two games starts tonight at 8 p.m.