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Blues know they need to be better

by Louie Korac

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- If history tells the story, the St. Louis Blues are in big trouble.

After falling 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals to fall into a 0-2 hole, the Blues are faced with the uphill task of winning a series in this predicament that they've only done once in franchise history.


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The Blues are 1-16 in series which they lose the first two games, with their only win coming against the Minnesota North Stars in 1972, winning in seven games.

But as captain David Backes tells it, it'll be 1-17 if things don't change fast.

"If we play like we did [Monday] with not enough guys going, it's going to be tough to win wherever we are," Backes said. "If we're playing on the moon, we're not going to win.

"We've got plenty of things to look at and we just need better play from more guys and more willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team. If we do that, I love our team. We've got tons of character, but if we look for an easy game, you might slide by some of the teams during the regular season, but this is playoffs against an L.A. Kings team that's playing as good as anyone and as a team, better than anyone right now. We've got battle levels that need to go up for every guy on the team and we need to get better."

The Blues departed for Los Angeles on Tuesday night, and they'll have time to reflect on the predicament they've put themselves in, losing both games at home (3-1 in Game 1 and 5-2 in Game 2) and now faced with the task of going on the road and trying to get their game back in order fast.

But according to veteran center Scott Nichol, that might not be such a bad idea.

"Yeah. Get the guys together, get the distractions out of the way," Nichol said. "A friend of mine text me the other day that Boston [last season] was down 2-0, too [to Montreal], and they ended up coming back and we know what happened after that.

"It's four games ... you've got to win four. They got the momentum, but we've got a couple days to get going and be ready to go."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock feels like his team is suited to play well on the road. They'll need it when they play Game 3 on Thursday night and Game 4 on Sunday afternoon in order to bring the series back to St. Louis next week.

"If we play better, this is going to be a really good series," Hitchcock said. "We've played our best hockey on the road, for whatever reason. But this is a different opponent. This opponent has strong resolve. We have to play better. We've got to manage the puck better, we've got to check better. If you look at the scoring chances, there's too many lost one-on-one battles in the first two games in critical areas and giving up scoring chances.

"I think we're going to play hard. I think we're going to play really hard. We're going to have to because they played very well in the series against Vancouver in that building, but I think we're going to play real hard. I think we're really going to compete at a high level. Our goal is to play at our best in Game 3 and turn the momentum back our way and bring this thing back home."

Playing with a sense of desperation knowing you're two losses away from being eliminated might be the wakeup call the Blues needed.

"We definitely need to be desperate," veteran winger Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We obviously know the situation that we're in. We've got to win four out of the next five games. However we do that in whichever order, it doesn't matter. We obviously want to make sure we go out and get that first one real soon here."

Added winger Matt D'Agostini, who scored in Monday's 5-2 defeat: "Playing with your back to the wall always brings out the fight in everyone. It's desperation. When you're two games away from elimination, it's desperation -- the not-panic desperation, but urgency-desperation. I think we're good when our backs are up against the wall like that."

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