Saturday afternoon’s game might actually feel like game 3 to the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. In Thursday night’s game 1, they played an extra 40:26 on top of the 60 minute game.
“I think everybody, if you talk to anybody on both teams, feels like they’ve already played two hockey games,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, “For us to keep things going we’ve just got to keep it into perspective.”
“We are going to have to be at our absolute best to beat them. I think out players recognize that after [Thursday]. We’ve got to play even better than we’ve played if we expect to win even the next game in the series.”
Thankfully the Blues played better Thursday night than they had in their last six games of the regular season. The Note scored more goals Thursday night than they had in their last 4 games and Hitchcock knows they boys in blue will have to play an even better game Saturday.
“If we play at the same level as we did [Thursday], it won’t be good enough to win the next game,” he said, “We’re going to have to be better. Improving throughout the series is what Chicago’s done and that’s what’s given them the Cups.”
The Blues will look to expand upon Vladimir Tarasenko’s return, who scored the Blues second goal Thursday, but Hitchcock is still mum on when TJ Oshie and Patrik Berglund will return to the line-up.
“When a guy like Berglund or Oshie says he’s ready to play, then somebody’s going out,” Hitchcock said, “When you get players like that added to your line-up it’s going to do nothing but help.”
Power Play Woes
The Blues were O for 4 on the power play Thursday night and when asked, Hitchcock was not pleased with the performance.
“No. Nope. Nope. We’ll be better there,” Hitchcock stated Friday.
During the regular season, the Blues were the 7th best team in the NHL with a 19.8 percentage success. On the other side of special teams, the penalty kill was 1 for 6 Thursday night.
Maxim Lapierre, Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell made a definite impact in game 1 scoring the first goal and making one of the biggest saves in overtime.
“Lappie made a hell of a save,” Hitchcock said, “They did the things we needed them to do. They protected the puck, they created scoring chances.”
The line averaged 34 shifts Thursday night.