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Blues use day off to rest, prepare for Stars

St. Louis still sore, tired from seven-game series against Chicago

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues reveled in their Western Conference First Round victory against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, winning in seven games.

The Blues advanced past the first round for the first time since 2012, and fans have taken notice of what they have accomplished.

"Oh yeah. I got back to the condo and there was signage everywhere, and it wasn't, 'Get rid of Hitch,' so that's a nice sign," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Now, the focus has shifted to the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars. Game 1 is at American Airlines Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

The Blues first had to come down from an emotional high of winning 3-2 in Game 7 at Scottrade Center on Monday.

"I think so," St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said Wednesday. "We took yesterday off, gave these guys an opportunity to take a break, reset their mind, reset their body. Think it was a good opportunity for us to kind of get away, enjoy some time with our families that we haven't had in the last 10, 12 days."

Goalie Brian Elliott said he wasn't concentrating on the previous series.

"You have to [move on]," Elliott said. "It doesn't really mean anything anymore. This is what it's all about, it's about this next game on the road and trying to play our Blues style road hockey and get that first one out of the way."

The Blues were supposed to skate Wednesday but elected for another day of rest before a full skate Thursday and flying to Dallas afterward.

Only captain David Backes was among those who played in Game 7 on the ice Wednesday. The other skaters were healthy scratches.

"That wasn't what I anticipated yesterday when I drew up the practice plans," Hitchcock said. "After communicating with the players later in the day, their read was, 'We're still sore, we're still tired, we're banged up and we needed another day.' So we came in, we had a good meeting today to get ready for another game plan set. We're going to have a good practice tomorrow. We looked at having two skates in the next three days and we were flexible whether it was going to be today and then take tomorrow off or do tomorrow. We were going to have a team skate and obviously skate full on the day of the game. The decision to skate full tomorrow was made after communicating with five or six of the key guys last night."

The Blues defeated the Stars in four of five games during the regular season, although three of them ended after regulation. Having played Chicago helps, because Dallas plays a similar style game.

"I think playing Chicago, the tempo that Chicago played at is similar to what Dallas plays at, but after that it's different," Hitchcock said. "I think both teams, us and Dallas, don't get credit ... we're better at things that people think we're not and they're better at things. They've got elements in their game that people think aren't their strengths, but when you coach against them, they're a lot stronger in those areas than people think, and we're the same. We're a lot quicker than people think we are. Some of it is in our puck movement and some of it is just flat out we're quicker than people realize until you play us. Dallas has elements in their game that are a lot better than it looks like on paper. I think that's why both teams have had really good years. Both teams for me have been able to surprise the opposition and elements that you thought might be weaknesses end up not being weaknesses."

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