CHICAGO - Despite a stronger team performance in Game 2, the Blues had plenty of things go against them, including one go-ahead goal disallowed and a goalie interference review that resulted in a good goal for the Blackhawks.
But, as Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock stressed after the game, it’s just something his club is going to need to overcome.
“When you play the defending Stanley Cup Champions, you’re going to have to fight through a lot of stuff,” Hitchcock said after Game 2. “Calls aren’t going to go your way, you’re not going to get the officiating you want and it’s always going to seem like it’s one-sided (against you). Big deal. Fight through it.”
With the best-of-7 series now tied at 1-1, the Blues are putting Game 2 in the rearview mirror and proceeding with confidence for today’s Game 3 (2 p.m. CT on NBC and Y98 FM).
And why wouldn't they?
In the regular season, the Blues took two of three games against the Blackhawks at the United Center. The wins came Nov. 4 (the Roar Bacon game) and just last week, when Vladimir Tarasenko tied the game with 1:16 remaining and then scored again in overtime to claim a 2-1 victory.
“In the playoffs, it’s fun playing on the road,” Blues forward Paul Stastny said. “Sometimes, especially a building like (United Center that) is so loud, you’re playing against 21,000 fans plus (the Blackhawks). It gets you excited. Anytime you play in Chicago, it’s easy to get up (for the game). We know we’re going to have to weather that storm, be ourselves and stick together and play as a team.”
Hitchcock cautioned that the regular season success at United Center might not be relevant, saying that the recent playoff games have been taken to a completely new level when compared to their regular season matchups.
“Both teams have dialed it up significantly since Game 68 and 81. These are completely different games,” Hitchcock said. “I think the only experience you can draw from is the stage that gets presented in Chicago and in St. Louis are pretty intimidating buildings. Neither team has shied away from that, but this is at a whole ‘nother level.
“We’re going to have to decide how deep we’re willing to dig, and I think there’s a group in (our locker room) willing to go further.”
The Blues held an optional skate Saturday and did not practice before today’s game. The lineup is subject to change, but we’d expect the lines for Game 3 to look like this:
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
Hitchcock is expected to meet with the media before today’s game, so we’ll update the lineup if he shares any changes.
Vladimir Tarasenko has scored 11 goals in his first 15 career playoff games and is averaging .73 goals per playoff game, which is the highest mark among active players with at least 15 postseason appearances.
The Blues posted 41 hits in Game 2, tying the mark they had in Wednesday’s Game 1. Troy Brouwer lead the team with nine, which was the highest by a Blue in a playoff game since Vladimir Sobotka landed 10 hits vs. Los Angeles on May 6, 2013.
Brian Elliott is unbeaten away from Scottrade Center since the All-Star break, which includes winning a career-best seven straight games and posting a 1.28 goals-against average, a .952 save-percentage and three shutouts. In his two most recent starts at United Center, Elliott is 1-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .940 save-percentage.
The Blues are hosting Blues Bashes for all of the team’s road games in the playoffs. Blues Bashes will be held at Ballpark Village and select HotShots locations. Visit stlouisblues.com/playoffs to learn more.