As the St. Louis Blues prepare for their second round series with the Los Angeles Kings tonight, the fact that they're facing a team who knocked out the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games isn't something that's surprising to forward David Perron. Parity rules.
"Even from 1st to 15th in the season sometimes you see a lot of 15th place teams winning against No. 1, 2 or 3," said Perron on Friday afternoon. "When you go in the playoffs you expect the No. 1 team to beat No. 8, just for whatever reason. But it's so tight in this league that you never know what can happen."
And a lot did happen in the first round. The No. 1 seed in the Western Conference is gone. The No. 1 in the Eastern Conference was pushed to seven games. So were the No. 2 seeded Boston Bruins, but they weren't as fortunate as the New York Rangers in their own Game 7.
Now facing a Kings team with red-hot netminder Jonathan Quick, the Blues won't be snuck up on. Los Angeles went 2-1-1 against St. Louis during the regular season and the momentum from the Kings having to fight to get into the postseason has carried over.
"We knew they were a good team," Perron said. "Even before the playoffs started we knew whoever was going to face the Kings would have a tough matchup, even if it was us. They showed that by beating Vancouver and got the attention of the whole hockey world now. They've been playing playoff hockey for a while now to get into the playoffs."
After the jump, we talked with Perron about whether he prefers rest over momentum in the playoffs, getting his game back after a concussion and the handling of suspensions so far this season.
It's been a week since you last played. This time of year, do you prefer rest rather than momentum?
There comes a time where you're itching to play, but at the same time we've got to be thankful that we have some days off right now and can go about our business like we did before the first round. Good amount of rest, good amount of practice and preparation and get ready for tomorrow.
The series is going to see some really good goaltending. Knowing it's going to be a defensive battle is there any change in the approach going from a San Jose to Los Angeles?
I think we feel just as confident in our goalies like they do. He's a real good goalie [Jonathan Quick] over there. With Brian, everyone's saying how he's been hot all year, but when does it become something we just expect? I think we've come to that point and we know he's going to be there every night. What you change is really making sure we have a lot of traffic at the net. It's always something we preach. But for this goalie who's really aggressive you try to keep him in the back of his crease, try to make him not come out too far, and if he does come out too far, then you've got to find a way to go around him, either fake shots or passes across or quick one-timers.
When we talked a few months ago, you told me you thought it'd take you about 20-30 games for the apprehension to go away coming back from your concussion. Did it even take you that long?
There's a few steps to getting your game back and I got some of the first steps after 4-5-6 games. The biggest thing was having the All-Star Game break and about 10 days off. It really paid me dividends in terms of getting some work in the gym. I had four goals in 22 or 23 games at that point. I ended up scoring 17 in the rest of the season and finishing with 21. It was certainly nice to come back after the break and feel really strong about my game, but hopefully there's another step in the playoffs here.
What do you and your teammates think about the suspensions handed out so far? Are they too light? Too tough?
On every case you can look at it. With the injury I had last year, you want to see all those shots taken away from the game. When you're a guy who had symptoms for a while, you know you don't want to go back there, you don't want anyone to be there. I think that's why some of the stuff, whether it's a fine or whatever, I would have maybe been a little strong on some of them and some of them were right on. They're doing a good job for the most part, but when you go through the injury I went through and talking to other guys who went through the same thing, you would like them to be a little more severe on some of the stuff.
Some players have expressed publicly criticisms of dirty hits and the lack of punishment. Is there still a bit of a gray area in terms of players understanding what could be a suspendable hit?
Some are really easy to call. Of course, there's always going to be some gray zone. At the same time, if you look at the [Raffi] Torres hit, I know it's a fast game, but he skates by puck and he takes a swat at it with his stick and still keeps going to finish [Marian] Hossa, who just previously had the puck and really launches himself up in the air at the point of contact to hit him right in the face and you can see his jaw go sideways.
To me, I know it's a fast game out there, but if you know you just skated right by the puck there's a way to slow yourself down. You might have to hit him because you're going too fast, but you don't need to jump up in the air, do whatever you need to do to minimize contact and slow yourself down. Then there's other incidents like [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Shea] Weber, to me that was a pretty easy call, but I'm not the one making those calls and it's a tough job to be in. I think he's doing the best he can and we'll keep supporting him, but hopefully he's keep being severe on some of the hits like that.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy