-- After the Blues poured everything they had physically, emotionally and mentally into a 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in their final game leading into the All-Star break, players, coaches and even management looked forward to some rest and relaxation.
A number of them scattered, some even left the country to recharge and refresh the batteries and some chose to remain in St. Louis to allow the mind and body to heal -- because the Blues, who are 29-13-7 and just two points behind NHL-leader Detroit for the No. 1 overall spot, will return to the ice facing the daunting task of trying to keep pace with the impressive numbers they've put up so far.
"We're going to have some real battles, and if we want to be a good team, we're going to have to grow from our last two games (against the Red Wings and Penguins), because we're there, but if we want to beat these teams and we want to be a top team, we've got to grow," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who's 23-6-7 since taking over for Davis Payne
on Nov. 6.
The Blues will have huge challenges playing 20 of their final 33 games away from the friendly confines of Scottrade Center, where they've compiled the most wins in the NHL at 21-3-4. Many of those battles will come against the teams they will have to jockey with for Western Conference supremacy.
Which prompted Hitchcock to proclaim, "We're as good or better than 22 teams in the League, but there's eight out there, they're big-time teams … big-time teams, and we get 'em, and we get lots of them and we get them in their building."