ST. LOUIS - The defending Stanley Cup Champions know how to fend off elimination with a 7-1 record in win or go home games since 2013 and the Blues are prepared for their opponent’s desperation coming in Game 5 Thursday night.
“They're a resilient bunch,” said former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer. “They make sure they create their opportunities. They don't make too many mistakes. Through a lot of their different lines they have people to score, an ability to make you pay. That's also the experience factor winning three Cups in the past couple of years.”
The sense out of Chicago is that St. Louis has been able to frustrate the Hawks with their perseverance. The Blues trailed in both road games and we able to find a way to win. Prior to Game 3’s win the Hawks were 70-0-4 in games in which they were ahead after two periods.
“I don't know if we sense frustration. They're a good hockey team. Whether that plays into it or not [I don't know]. Any team down 3-1 in a series is going to be desperate. We expect that, we know that. We're just going to play a good solid game tonight,” Brouwer added.
Despite winning three of the last six Cups, the Blackhawks aren’t immune to first round exits having lost to the Canucks in 2011 and the Coyotes in 2012. To further show their distress, Joel Quenneville is throwing captain Jonathan Toews and superstar Patrick Kane on the same line.
“I think we give them a lot of respect,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “They're guys who are at any given moment dangerous and they don't need much space or much time to feel like they can score a goal. And they've had their chances, but I think we approach the whole thing knowing they're tremendous hockey players and they're going to get their scoring chances and it's how we can minimize it and how we can limit their opportunities.”
It’s different trying to send the defending champ to the golf course early and they don’t want to take the series back to Chicago and give the Hawks any hope.
“Just getting it done, that's our number one priority,” said center Paul Stastny. “Just keep playing the same way, keep being hungry no matter what the score is keep the same intensity and mentality. Our mental game is a lot stronger than anything in the past.”
That sentiment of this St. Louis team being different than any other has echoed throughout the dressing room. From coaches to players, every person can see and feel the difference.
“This team is different since I've been here the last few years,” Steve Ott said. “The mindset and the adversity the team has faced throughout the whole year really leads you to this time of year. And now you hope it all comes together. I think it has. We worry about ourselves and when you worry about yourselves you let the outside distraction take care of itself.”
Now they have the chance to send their bitter rivals home early in their toughest match of the season. And a positive outcome will give an equally desperate St. Louis fan base the first round victory it’s craved.
“We know we have great fans that are an extremely passionate group that want to see us do well,” Ott continued. “The crowd, the fans, the city they're waiting for moments like this. For us we need to bring our best game forward.”
The puck drops at 8:42 p.m. Thursday at Scottrade Center.