HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The lingering question hanging over the St. Louis Blues since they ended the regular season Sunday is, how can they recapture the winning ways that led to a franchise-best 52 victories?
Even with several injuries and their scoring down nearly a goal-and-a-half the final 41 games, six straight losses to end the regular season was something that needed to be overcome quickly with the Chicago Blackhawks the opponent in the Western Conference First Round.
The Blues' 4-3 triple-overtime win in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series was a subtle reminder that St. Louis hasn't forgotten how to win. The Blues knew reinforcements were on the way; as veteran left wing Brenden Morrow calmly said, "The cavalry's coming."
The Blues got back five of their injured players, and after a game that took more than 100 minutes to complete, victory tasted sweet in a series destined to be lengthy.
Game 2 is Saturday at Scottrade Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) before the series shifts to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.
"We scored a lot of goals, won 52 games ... we didn't forget what the feeling is," said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who played a career-high 44:08 Thursday. "It was a little bit of a bump in the road, but it's a good learning lesson to get that one [Thursday night] under our belt. I think it's good for the confidence. We feel pretty good right now. We believe what we have in the room, whether there's negativity coming from the outside or not. We believe in this team, we have all year, and that's why we've been so successful."
The Blues held an optional skate Friday afternoon inside St. Louis Outlet Mall. Ten skaters took the ice, two were injured forwards T.J. Oshie (upper body) and Patrik Berglund (upper body).
For Oshie, it was another day on the ice gearing himself up for a return to the lineup; he's questionable for Saturday. Berglund skated with teammates for the first time Friday; he's more inclined to miss the game Saturday. Each missed Game 1.
"I didn't see them," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Until someone taps me on the shoulder and says he's a game player, he's out. Our lineup's going to be fluid every day. Every day it's going to be fluid. I told you guys before, we're going to have everybody playing in this series at some period of time, so that obviously means by Game 5, we expect everybody to be ready to go and hopefully nobody gets injured. Touch wood, but that's our expectations."
Blues captain David Backes said a healthy Oshie is good for the team at any point.
"He's a horse for us, an Energizer bunny that never stops," Backes said. "You talk about fatigue, he's a guy that would have a few days of rest [going] into a series which has a lot guys that have played some big minutes in the last 36 hours. So it'll be hopefully a jolt to the arm if he's in. If not, we've proven that we can win if he's not in the lineup. We'll have to have the same sort of performance again."
The Blues' preparation was simple Friday: Come in for meetings, hydrate, and go home and rest.
"Food, hydration, sleep ... I feel pretty good today," Pietrangelo said. "I think most of us do. It was tough to sleep [Thursday night] by the time you get home, eat and relax and the brain winds down.
"I feel fine today. Trainers have done a great job giving us the proper information and how to deal with it."
The Blues are expecting a greater push-back from the Blackhawks.
"Yeah, we've taken lessons from the past experiences in playoffs and know that it's one game at a time," Backes said. "It's not all going to be roses.
"Whatever happens in the next game, we put it behind us and worry about the next one. If it gets outside of that, we're kidding ourselves and we're going to be in trouble. This group in here knows that it's one game at a time and the next one is tomorrow afternoon and we've got to take care of business."