Hockey / Sports

Blues express confidence going into elimination game

After an optional practice Saturday at the Ice Zone, the St. Louis Blues had a flight scheduled to leave St. Louis at 3 p.m. CDT, bound for Chicago.

Following Friday night's 3-2 overtime loss, the feeling among Blues' fans may be that the Blackhawks are bound to win the Western Conference first-round series. They've won the last three games to take a 3-2 lead in the series and they have a chance to clinch it at the United Center in Game 6 on Sunday at 2 p.m.

But while the odds may be stacked against the Blues -- they have lost seven consecutive road playoff games -- Ken Hitchcock said his club is confident.

"We've gotta win a hockey game on the road," Hitchcock said. "We've done it all year. We've gotta do everything in our power to bring this thing back for Game 7. Everybody is a little discouraged, a little down, but (Sunday) we'll get ourselves ready. I don't see anything changing.

"We have a chance to write our own legacy. Everybody is probably writing, 'Here they go again. They're challenging the top teams, but can they get through the top teams?' Everybody is going to write that stuff. But we have a chance to write the message that you guys have to print, so it's in our control. It's not in 'what's going to get printed' control, it's in our control. And I want to see us embrace this.

"Yeah, we're knocking on the door and we're knocking hard but we've got to push through. Just can't keep pushing up against the wall. We've got a real opportunity to push through the wall here. I want to see our players take advantage of this. I really want to see us play a hell of a hockey game."

T.J. Oshie and Steve Ott were the two players made available to the media Saturday and they echoed Hitchcock's comments.

"I think just the resiliency that it takes," Oshie said. "It seems like whatever you can do to win a game in playoffs, you've got to do a little more than that. It's a tough time right now, but we don't feel like we're going to be coming home tomorrow and getting the golf clubs out either. We're confident that we're going to go in tomorrow and get the win and bring this thing back to St. Louis."

Added Ott: "It's going to continue to be a rough and tumble go. We're not expecting either team to lay down. It's going to be a fun game tomorrow afternoon. I know from being in that (Blues') dressing room, the character we have in this room is by far the most I've ever been part of. When you're faced with the elimination or do or die, your character has to rise. I'm a big believer when you have a roomful of guys like we have ... we need to all rise to a (higher) level. We all need to have our best game of the year, and if we do so, we're coming back to St. Louis."

MISSED SHOTS

The Blues had 15 missed shots in Friday's loss and now have 82 misses in the series.

Oshie wasn't the only culprit, but he had two high-quality chances -- once late in the second period when the game was tied 1-1 and midway through the third period when the score was 2-2.

"If the puck lays flat, it's a goal probably 100 percent of the time," Oshie said. "Things happen where the puck rolls on its side and in that moment, you're trying to put it in, you're trying to put it in with authority and the puck just bobbles on you a little bit and it just goes wide.

"It's hard, it's a fast-paced game. When they slow it down, it seems like there's an entire net. Things are going fast and things happen. But we have to bury down that when we do get into those chances or those instances, the puck goes in no matter what no matter what you've got to do."

BACKES' PERFORMANCE

Blues captain David Backes returned to the lineup Friday. He played 21 minutes, 35 seconds and had eight of the team's 54 hits.

"For not skating, for not playing, I thought he did fine," Hitchcock said. "He hit the wall a few times so we had to put other people on the ice, but for coming back into -- how long's he not skated for, two weeks? -- to walk in and play those minutes was impressive."

MILLER TIME

The Blues will be counting on Ryan Miller in Game 6. He surrendered the game-winning goal by Jonathan Toews in Game 5, nearly making the save.

"I know he'll be ready to go," Ott said. "I'm sure he felt like he should have had that goal in the sense of how close it actually was. He's continued to play lights out for us. He was solid again (Friday) night and I expect nothing less for the rest of the series."

Said Hitchcock: "He's played great, (but) we're probably gonna have to steal a game to bring this thing back, so he's gonna have to be part of the steal. He's gonna have to be one of the robbers. He's gonna have to be a big player for us. We know that, he knows that."

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

----

BLUES


Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus