SAN JOSE - The Blues find themselves in a must-win situation tonight in San Jose, so they’re turning back to the guy that got them this far.
Brian Elliott will start in goal for Game 6 (tonight at 8 p.m. CT, NBCSN, KMOX) after sitting out the last two games.
"It's his turn for Game 6," Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said before the team boarded a flight to San Jose. "We needed the jolt from Jake, we got it to get back into the series... but this has been Brian's playoffs and we'd like him to finish the job.”
Elliott has obviously been a key component in the Blues reaching their first Western Conference Final since 2001. He dispatched the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks and the Central Division champion Dallas Stars, each in seven games.
He started the first 17 games, posting a 2.34 goals-against average, a .925 save-percentage and one shutout.
“For all his career, this has been the first time he’s gone through this (playoff grind), and I think (the break) has allowed him to reset it,” Hitchcock said. “I think he’s going to be great.”
“The entire playoffs he's played great, he's stood on his head,” said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. “That takes a lot of energy so the opportunity to regain that is going to benefit him.”
In his postseason career against the Sharks, Elliott is 4-2 with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .928 save-percentage.
A MUST-WIN SITUATION
The Blues are 2-0 in must-win games this postseason, so there’s no doubt in the locker room that they can do it again tonight.
Here’s what some of the players are saying:
Carl Gunnarsson: “I think we've shown throughout the season and throughout these playoffs that we never give up. We keep on coming no matter if we're down or if we're up. We never give up. We all believe in ourselves. Hopefully I think whatever happens after this season, I think people will say that the Blues in 2016 were the team that never gave up.”
Alexander Steen: “We’re excited. It’s the conference finals, it’s been a fun series. Every game has been a battle, and tonight’s not going to be any different. We’re excited to get going.”
Pietrangelo: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. But I'm excited at the same time. This is an opportunity. This is what you play for. We like the big stage. We’re resilient. The camaraderie we have in this locker room, guys playing for each other, is something that goes a long way. The guy next to us, we don't want to let him down. That’s the mindset we’ve had all year, that’s the mindset we’ve had in the playoffs. I feel it in the dressing room this morning and it will carry over to tonight.”
Scottie Upshall: “We’re all ready to go and pretty excited at this point. We’ve had two Game 7s in the past month that have been games where we’ve lost the previous Game 6 and had to rally, maybe without the momentum in our corner. I believe we’re a confident group when pushed against the wall. We’re at a point now in our season where everything is huge, everything is magnified. We’ve been there, we know what it takes, we know how hard it is. We’re up for the challenge. When we’re at our best, there’s a good chance we win.”
Upshall could get back in the lineup tonight after missing three games with an injury. Hitchcock said Upshall is a guy the club could really use for his speed, tenacity and versatility. “He’s a valuable player for us. He’s had an excellent year, and this time off has afforded him the time to get healthy and get ready to play.”
Troy Brouwer has eight goals in the postseason, which surpasses his combined total from the previous six postseason appearances.
Robby Fabbri shares the lead among all rookies in the playoffs with four goals and leads all rookies with five power-play points. Fabbri ranks first on the club in scoring with 15 points.
Dating back to the regular season, the Blues are 11-3-0 on the road since March 19. The Blues have won more road games than any other team in the playoffs and are scoring the most goals per game on the road (3.44).
Tonight’s Blues Bash watch parties will be held at Ballpark Village or at HotShots in St. Charles (1636 Country Club Plaza Drive).