ST. LOUIS -- One day after being shellacked from the second period on in Game 6 of their Western Conference First Round series, the St. Louis Blues didn't waste any time shifting gears for their Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-CH).
For all but five members of the Blues, Game 7 will be a new experience. Forward Troy Brouwer, who is 2-4 in Game 7s, said his teammates are excited for the opportunity.
"We're excited to play. I know a lot of guys in here haven't played a Game 7 yet in their career. They're excited for it," said Blues forward Troy Brouwer, who will be playing in his seventh Game 7. "We're going to have some fun with it. We've worked hard to put ourselves in a good spot this year to hopefully knock off the defending champions in a Game 7. Guys are excited for the opportunity tomorrow."
Center Kyle Brodziak has played in a Game 7 twice, and centers Steve Ott and Paul Stastny, left wing Scottie Upshall and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson have been in one each.
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The Blues are 6-8 in Game 7s, including 3-2 on home ice. Their last victory came against the Phoenix Coyotes on May 4, 1999, when Pierre Turgeon scored the only goal in a first-round victory. The Blues have lost their past two Game 7s; 2003 in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks and 2000 in the first round against the San Jose Sharks).
"In sports, especially in our sport, it doesn't get any better, it doesn't get any more challenging, it doesn't get any more fun, it doesn't get any better," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who is 3-2 in Game 7s, said Sunday. "You push as a coach in certain phases of the season to know you're going to need home ice or you think it might be a small advantage or it might be something you can really use. We pushed hard to stay ahead of Chicago when it was really close there the last month [of the regular season]. We got the opportunity to do this at home."
They'll try to do it against a Blackhawks team that has not just rallied back from a 3-1 deficit in this series and a 3-1 deficit Saturday, but one that eliminated St. Louis in six games in 2014 after the Blues took a 2-0 series lead. St. Louis lost to Minnesota in six games last year.
"We're a new team, I think we're not what we were the last couple years, at least last year," Stastny said. "I think we have a different feel in here within the locker room. We have the belief and we're mentally tougher than we were in the past. We're excited for the opportunity and we'll be ready."
Even though this will be a new experience for most of those on the roster, it's a chance to draw on experience from guys like Brouwer, who knows the ins and outs of what it will take.
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"Just talk about it," Brouwer said. "We've already talked about a whole bunch of situations. How it is, what the feeling is like. What it's like at home the night before. How your family is even more invested in it for Game 7s. That's all I can do. That's what I was brought here to do, bring my experience and that's what I'm trying to do in situations, all throughout the playoffs and all throughout the season."
Hitchcock, who was 2-1 with the Dallas Stars in Game 7s and 1-1 with the Philadelphia Flyers, agreed.
"We've got to rely on veteran players," Hitchcock said. "This is new for a lot of guys, a lot newer than their team. They maybe got a couple of guys that it's new to; we've got a lot of guys that this is new to. So I think our veteran guys, guys like Brouwer that have been through it before, they're going to help us along here."
Hitchcock said one challenge will be to keep his players, especially the younger ones, from getting too revved up.
"We're taking the Stanley Cup champions to Game 7; it doesn't get any better than that,' he said. "For me, our guys are, I think the biggest thing with our young guys [is] we can't let them get too amped up. I think yesterday we were a little bit amped up. If we can find a way to keep them calmed down to keep their focus, that would help."