(HockeyStL) -- The St. Louis Blues head just up Interstate 55 up to the United Center for Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night with a 2-0 series lead and they’re hoping to break away from last year’s exact same series lead against the Kings that ended with the Blues losing 4 straight.
“We’ve got to stay on our toes,” said defenseman Barrett Jackman, “We’re going into a tough building to play in in Chicago. It’s going to take everybody.”
“[Saturday] we got a little bit lucky. We let our foot off the gas and they got a couple of lucky bounces. We’ve got a team down 2-nothing. You’ve got to finish them.”
At the United Center this year, the Blues haven’t had much luck going 1-2 on the Blackhawk’s home ice. They will hope to carry the momentum of winning two overtime games with them, but won’t underestimate the defending Stanley Cup Champs.
“The way that these games have gone, you have to respect the fact that Chicago was a shot away in both these games, too,” said goaltender Ryan Miller, “That’s the weird fact about hockey is it can go your way a couple of nights.”
And the Note will need two more of those nights to venture on into the Western Conference semi-finals.
Backes OUT, Berglund IN
Ken Hitchcock walked right into the media room and within seconds gave everyone in St. Louis the information it craved.
David Backes will not play tonight after getting hit by the Blackhawks Brent Seabrook late in Saturday's Game 2 at Scottrade.
Clearly, there's a huge void to fill.
"Look he's our number one center. He plays the most minutes on the hockey club. He plays in every situation," head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "(Making up for Backes' absence) has to be shared. Not one person can fill this slot.
"What would Chicago be like losing (Jonathan) Toews? For us, Backes is Toews," Hitchcock said.
Backes' teammates are feeling the captain's absence as well right about now.
"I don't know how you make up for that," Alex Steen said. "He's obviously a key member of our team, our captain, our leader. It's tough not playing with him."
"It's obviously not easy. He's a huge part of our team. Other guys are going to have to step up now," Jaden Schwartz said.
In other injury news, Patrik Berglund will return after sitting out with an injury the last nine days.
Berglund has been out since after the game on April 11 against the Dallas Stars where he suffered an upper body injury. In the regular season, the 6'4" Swede recorded 14 goals and 18 assists. His return gives the Blues another big center in the wake of Backes' injury.
Both overtime heroes for the Blues, Alexander Steen and Jackman, were the same heroes in the last year’s first two games against the Kings. But at only 3 goals this season, Jackman has never been considered a high offense defenseman unlike his blue line partner Kevin Shattenkirk.
On Saturday afternoon, the former Calder Trophy winner just wanted to get a good shot off.
“I was just kind of focused on getting it by,” Jackman said, “I just wanted to get it passed their pads.”
And he did, with the puck just squirting under Corey Crawford’s legs, however, Jackman didn’t see it happen.
“I think I still had my eyes closed by the time I got mobbed,” he said, “The eruption in the building said it all.”
Backes won't play in Game 3 and neither will Chicago's Brent Seabrook. The Hawk’s defenseman will miss 3 games, with his suspension being announced on his 29th birthday. And the Hawks could have a hard time replacing him.
So far in both playoff games, Seabrook, who partners with Duncan Keith, has scored 2 goals and recorded 2 assists while playing an average of 33 shifts through 3 periods.
During the regular season, Seabrook had 41 points (7 goals, 34 assists) and while he only ranks tied for 15th among defensemen in assists, his partner Keith was number one with 55. He has also averaged just under 5 minutes on the Hawk’s power play unit through the first 2 playoff games.
Success of Lapierre's Line
Hitchcock has been impressed with his fourth line of Maxim Lapierre, Adam Cracknell and Chris Porter. Cracknell and Porter both scored the first goals of Games 1 and 2, respectively, and the line was on the ice when Jackman scored Saturday’s game winner.
Dubbed the Rice Krispie Line (Lap, Crack, Port) by the Post Dispatch’s Dan O’Neill, they averaged only 20 shifts Saturday between all three players, Lapierre the most at 26.
Hitchcock has been impressed with the way the line plays together.
“They protected the puck, they created scoring chances,” said Hitchcock, “They did the things we needed them to do.”