ST. LOUIS - Hits, hits and more hits.
That was the recurring theme for Wednesday’s Game 1, which ended with a dramatic overtime game-winner from Blues captain David Backes to give his club a 1-0 win in the game and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series with the Blackhawks.
The Blues outhit Chicago by a wide margin (41-24), yet Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said he was wanting more.
How does 70 sound?
“We’re going to need it,” Hitchcock said again on Friday. “We’ve got to be more physical for us on the forecheck… You’re trying to send a message, you’re trying to wear people down, you’re trying to make people make mistakes. This time of year, everybody checks.”
In Game 1, the Blues had 14 players register at least one hit. Scottie Upshall and Ryan Reaves led the charge with five each, while Jaden Schwartz (4), Kyle Brodziak (4), David Backes (3) and Patrik Berglund (3) dished out their fair share, too.
“Everybody has to bring that element, especially us, playing a big role on the defensive side,” said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who was credited with two hits on the scoresheet Wednesday. “We’re out there a lot, so if we can lead the charge in terms of the overall game, if that’s going to get guys going, we have to do that.”
One of the memorable hits came from rookie Robby Fabbri, who delivered a huge blow to Michal Rozsival in the second period. Another was from Troy Brouwer, who likely left a mark on defenseman Viktor Svedberg in the third.
“It’s just playoff hockey - a lot of emotions,” Fabbri said of his hit on Rozsival. “I got knocked over right before that and thought I’d try to get someone back. That’s just part of the game - hit them, let them know you’re there. The next time they go for the puck, they know they’re going to get hit.”
Can the Blues fulfill Hitchcock’s wish of 70 hits?
We’ll find out in Game 2.