ST. LOUIS - As the Blues lace up the skates tonight in hopes of taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series against the Dallas Stars, they’ll be following the lead of the man with the ‘C’ stitched upon his chest.
After all, it’s been what they’ve been doing all season.
David Backes scored two goals and dished out nine hits in Tuesday’s Game 3. He’s been a force to be reckoned with in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he’s showing no signs of stopping any time soon.
“He lets his game do the talking,” said Blues forward Paul Stastny. “(Game 3) was a perfect example where he was physical, good with the puck offensively and good defensively… He’s led by example all year. In the past, he’s been a little more vocal. Lately, he’s just letting his actions do the speaking and we just follow him.”
Through 10 playoff games, Backes is tied for the team lead in goals (5). He ranks second on the team with eight points in the playoffs and first in game-winning goals (3).
“All he’s doing is working and play his heart out… He’s just trying hard every shift,” said Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. “It’s an important time for the players and it’s an important time for individuals - he just wants to leave it all out on the ice.
“David doesn’t get enough credit for the greasy stuff he does,” Hitchcock added. “He’s the spokesman for the team, but he’s also the image and style we believe in - that we’re willing to go into the hard areas offensively and defensively. He’s scored some big goals for us, but he’s doing all the hard stuff - the stuff coaches notice.”
The captain will need to the lead the way again in tonight’s Game 4 (7 p.m., NBCSN, KMOX), where the Blues expect to see the best from the Dallas Stars, a team that probably can’t afford to go home down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.
Usually in a friendly, joking mood after morning skates, Backes today was all business.
“It’s time to really prove that we're a top-end team in this league. We’ve had failures before and we’ve learned from them,” he said. “We’re on a mission… We know what kind of effort we're going to need and we can't take a step backwards in any facet of our game if we want to have success tonight.
“That's what our focus is, and that's why we're ready to play a hard game.”
The lineup appeared to be the same during the morning skate today, so here's what we would expect to see for tonight's Game 4:
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri - David Backes - Patrik Berglund
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Proceeds from tonight’s 50/50 raffle and silent auction will benefit wildfire victims in Fort McMurray, AB - the hometown of Blues forward Scottie Upshall. Learn how you can help at tonight’s game by clicking here or you can bid online in the silent auction here by texting "blues" to 52182 or visiting blues.myab.co.
Tonight’s Clark Avenue Plaza Party begins at 3:30 p.m. and features live music from That 80’s Band beginning at 4:30 p.m. Fans can enjoy food and drink in the plaza and have an opportunity to win great prizes. The rally will also feature appearances from Blue Crew and Louie.
Kyle Brodziak said he expects tonight’s game to be the most difficult yet in this series, saying the Stars will definitely push back after a lopsided loss in Game 3. “It’s a seven-game series, and I think if you look too far ahead and we don’t come out with the result we want, basically everything we worked for until this point will be gone. We recognize that and we know tonight is going to be one of the hardest games of the series yet. We've got to be ready for it.”