ST. LOUIS - Ask Blues rookies Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson about their first Stanley Cup Playoff experience and they’ll likely tell you it was everything they expected and then some.
“Going into the game, everyone is saying that this is something special, wait until you see it,” Fabbri said. “When you finally do, it’s eye-opening. It was a great experience for myself and hopefully there’s more of those.”
“It was loud. The fans are crazy out there and that made it really fun,” Edmundson said. “I think Game 1 was exactly how we thought it'd be. We usually go the distance with that team, so it didn't surprise us. We were ready for the battle. Tonight, I think I’ll be more ready. They definitely amped the pace up a bit because it’s the playoffs. They finished more checks, you just always have to have your head on a swivel and be ready to be hit.”
Everyone expects the intensity to be higher for tonight’s Game 2 at 7 p.m. (FSMW, NBCSN, Y98 FM). It’s not that Game 1 wasn’t intense - it was - but players indicated that Wednesday might have been more of a feeling-out process. Tonight, the Blues expect to bring more, and they definitely expect more from Chicago.
“Every game is going to get ramped up a little bit,” Paul Stastny said. “There’s always a different factor in the (next) game, whether it’s more scoring, more physical, more skill - there’s always something different to it. You’re not surprised by anything. We’ve played them enough in the regular season and the playoffs to know what both teams have. We’re more worried about what we bring to the table.”
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said the Blues can do a better job with their execution on the offensive side, and was asked about his team’s low shot total in Game 1.
“I know this might sound funny, but we were guilty of trying to shoot too much,” Hitchcock said. “We didn’t show the patience necessary to play this team. Both teams collectively had close to the same scoring chances. Their shot totals were higher, but we were guilty of not having enough shots because we were trying to shoot too much and they got in the lanes.
“We have find a little bit different way to play them offensively.”
Bottom line though, whether the Blues get more quality shots, better execution or more hits, expect tonight to be way more intense than Game 1.
“The temperature is going to go up. You can tell in the players comments, Joel (Quenneville’s) comments, our feeling is the same thing, the temperature is going to go up,” Hitchcock said. “(Wednesday) was a hard-fought game, but the execution is going to go up and I think both teams can execute at a higher level. I think you’re going to see more and more of that as it goes on.”
MORE HITS CLARIFIED
Hits were a big story in Game 1. The Blues dished out 41 of them on the stat sheet, and after the game, their coach said he wanted 70.
Today, Hitchcock admitted he was having some fun with the media on the hitting topic, but also clarified his definition of “hits.”
“It’s fun on the off days watching you guys chase the tail, it really was. We’ve got to have some fun with this stuff, too,” he told the media during Friday’s press conference. “Watching you guys have to write and work instead of just party, it’s fun.”
“There’s a big difference between finished checks and hits,” Hitchcock added. “Finished checks mean you get the puck back, you win a board battle to retrieve possession and force mistakes. Anybody can run around and make contact, but it’s the job of getting the puck back that you need to have when you're playing teams like Chicago. If they have the puck all night, you've got no chance.”
Everyone but Troy Brouwer skated this morning, but Hitchcock said Brouwer will be in the lineup tonight.
Here’s what we expect to see:
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Jaden Schwartz lost a few teeth just before David Backes scored the game-winning goal in Game 1. Schwartz was hit on the follow-through from Jori Lehtera’s stick but skated today and will be in the lineup tonight.
Speaking of that game-winning goal, it was the first playoff overtime goal of Backes’ career.
With their overtime win in Game 1, the Blues now hold a 7-3 record in 10 playoff overtime games against Chicago, including a 7-1 record at home.
Brian Elliott made 35 saves for his first career playoff shutout on Wednesday. It was the first playoff shutout by a Blues goaltender since Chris Osgood recorded one on April 10, 2003 vs. Vancouver.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will return to the lineup tonight after serving a six-game suspension.
The Blues kick off their Playoff Plaza Party today at 3:30 p.m. outside Scottrade Center in the Clark Avenue Plaza. Enjoy live music from Joe Dirt, get drinks at the Bud Light Bar and merchandise from the True Blues retail store. Fans can also win great prizes from Angella, Louie and Blue Crew. Playoff Plaza Parties are presented by The Bud Light Party.