CHICAGO -- Emotions were running high as the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks prepared for Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series on Monday night at United Center.
During the morning skates on Monday, each team was still talking about a controversial hit on David Backes, the St. Louis Blues captain, by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook during Game 2 on Saturday. The hit, with 4:51 remaining in the third period of Game 2, left Backes dazed and he needed help to leave the ice. He did not return to the game, which St. Louis won in overtime.
Backes will not play in Game 3 on Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDSI, FS-MW, CSN-CH). St. Louis leads the best-of-7 series, 2-0.
Seabrook was suspended three games by the Department of Player Safety.
Sunday, the Blues accused Blackhawk players of verbally taunting a clearly injured Backes. Monday morning, members of the Blackhawks spent time answering those charges.
Duncan Keith, who was on the ice when Backes was hit, would not confirm nor deny that he was among the players speaking to Backes. A microphone on the game coverage picks up some chirping, including the phrase "Wakey, wakey, Backes." The speaker is never identified, but several members of the blues attributed it to Keith, Seabrook's defense partner.
"There's lots of things that get said out on the ice in the course of a hockey game, especially in playoffs," Keith said. "I'm an emotional guy. It's an emotional game. I don't remember everything that gets said out there. I didn't even see the hit, to be honest with you. I'm playing the puck and I shot the puck around, and the next thing I know, I see [Seabrook] getting in a fracas, so I jump in there. I don't know what was going on.”
Asked again whether he said it, Keith bristled.
“I don't know how many times you want me to say the same thing," he said. "Skating around, didn't see the play, come in there to help support [Seabrook]. Like I said, there's lots of things that get said over the course of a hockey game. I don't remember everything that gets said."
The Blues say they know what was said and it was not appreciated.
"In my career, I’ve never seen a guy go down in a severe manner like that and guys chirp him, especially the way Backes was acting," St. Louis forward Ryan Reaves said. "He didn’t really know where he was. He couldn't really stand. For a guy to go up and start talking to him in that kind of manner I think is gutless and I don't think there’s a lot of room for that."
Reaves considers it evidence of the Blues accomplishing their goal of getting under the skin of the Blackhawks.
"I think they're just reacting to how we're playing them," he said. "I think they're getting frustrated and I think it's starting to show. So, we're not going to let it rattle us. I don't think anybody is happy about what happened. We just have to push through right now."