(HockeyStL) -- Despite being down three games to none in the Western Conference semifinals, the Blues remained positive after Friday’s optional skate. The Blues know that it will take a miracle to come back, but regardless, they feel they have earned valuable experience, and are still not prepared to raise the white flag of surrender.
“We’ve done a lot of good things the last couple of games,” said head coach Ken Hitchcock. We’re not built for chasing games so it’s forced us into difficult matchups. We’ve got to try to get a lead and build our minutes from there. “We opted to have a meeting Friday, (it was a) good meeting, everybody is to get relaxed and have a good practice Saturday.”
The Blues will have to go from there as they look to at least bring the series back to St. Louis, to the fans who have stood by the Note through it all. It has been a disappointing series for the Blues, but the players are confident they can get their game going in time to salvage it, and Thursday’s game three was a start.
The Blues were able to bounce back from a one goal deficit with the help of Chris Stewart’s goal (Stewart would score again later in the game), but the Blues were unsuccessful in maintaining any of the momentum they gained. Retaining momentum has been a huge part of the Blues being down three games, and Hitchcock attributes it to frustration.
“It’s that take it to the whistle, and then turn it off that is experience that allows you to do that. Our inexperience at times has shown, but it has also been veteran players (retaliating). I think sometimes you confuse toughness with taking it. It hasn’t hurt us on the scoreboard because our penalty kill has been so good, where it has hurt us is building momentum. It is a small element of frustration and if you are going to win in the playoffs you can’t have frustration.”
The Blues had to kill five Kings power plays in game three. The Note took three penalties in five minutes in game three’s second period and it lead to a Kings’ power play goal. Hitchcock made it clear that good five on five play is the key in the playoffs, but the retaliatory penalties are weakening the Blues, and giving them no chance to bounce back and play their game five on five.
“It’s easy to talk about; hard to do when the game is at this level of emotion,” said Hitchcock. It’s a learned skill. You can talk about it all you want, but when it hurts you, it hits home. Reactionary penalties have hurt us in this series.”
The Kings have beaten the Blues at their own game; doing the things the Blues have prided themselves in being successful at all season.
“The lesson for us is this is what we look like and we’re getting it done to us at a very high level,” said Hitchcock. We have got to react better.”
If the Blues hope to extend the series past Sunday’s game four they will have to be the ones to initiate the flow of play. Reacting has led to a three game deficit, and the Blues are on their last life. It would be disappointing to see a successful season go down the tube because the Blues were unable to find their game when it mattered the most. The Blues will take it one game at a time from here on, clinging to their last hope, and hoping they can extend their series long enough to make a dramatic comeback. Do you believe in miracles?