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Blues take day off before Game 4 vs. Blackhawks

by Louie Korac

CHICAGO -- With a heavy physical toll being paid, the St. Louis Blues took the day off Wednesday before preparing for Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round Series against the Chicago Blackhawks (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-MW, CSN-CH).

The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 after Chicago won Game 3; however, the Blues felt the 2-0 loss was their best game.

"I said [Monday] night we played good but not good enough," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said from the team hotel. "There's elements of our game ... what we did well, we have to do on a more consistent basis. The push that we gave them at the end has to be consistent from the start to the finish if we expect to beat them. I said [Monday] night, they get a lot of credit for their skill level, but it's their resolve that's as strong as [heck] and we're going to have to test their resolve even further and deeper and see if we can continue to play our game.

"We play different styles, but both are very successful. They have a way of playing that's very successful for them and they have a tremendous commitment to it and we have a style that's good for us. I thought we were 80 percent in and if we're going to beat them [Wednesday], we're going to have to have a stronger commitment in our game."

Hitchcock's players were glad to get some time to themselves.

"It was nice to get a day off," forward Jaden Schwartz said. "Walked around a little bit, shopped for a little bit and went for a nice lunch. We're going to have some meetings here and get back into it. It's certainly nice to get your mind away from it a little bit."

The Blues played arguably their best game of the series despite missing captain David Backes, who sat out Game 3 with an upper-body injury after an illegal hit in Game 2 from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who was suspended by the NHL for three games.

The Blues had no update on Backes' condition and status for Game 4.

"We'll let you know [Wednesday]," Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said he might make changes in the lineup Wednesday though he didn't name any names.

Backes' absence was certainly felt on the offensive side. Hitchcock was forced for more reasons than one to switch left wings Schwartz and Steve Ott. Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko arguably have been the Blues' best line in the series.

"Obviously [Backes] is missed," forward Alexander Steen said. "You don't replace a player like that, but, at the same time, we've got to move forward. We have guys capable of putting the puck in the net. We've had a lot of guys score a lot of goals during the course of the season. Last game, we didn't finish. We have to finish."

The Blues would love nothing more than to gain a split on the road and go back to Scottrade Center with a chance to close out the defending champions in Game 5 on Friday.

"I think every game is critical," Schwartz said. "We knew we were going to be in for a battle against these guys. That's certainly the case right now. Each game's been close, could go either way. We know how important [Wednesday's] game is and they do too. I'm sure it's going to be another tight one and we want to give ourselves a chance to win this series at home, but it's not going to be easy."

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