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Blues must play with confidence, urgency in Game 2

St. Louis must embrace positives, can't think about consequences of second straight loss

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

ST. LOUIS -- A player's mind can be his worst enemy during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One game, one period, one shift can cripple a player mentally for days and impact his ability to perform in the next game. The teams and players who best are able to win that mental battle are the ones that normally have the most success in the playoffs.

The St. Louis Blues will be waging that internal battle during Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Nashville Predators at Scottrade Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Blues are down 1-0 in the best-of-7 series and risk having to go to Nashville in a two-game hole if they don't win Game 2. Not thinking about that possibility might be the No. 1 key to the Blues avoiding it.


[RELATED: 5 Keys: Predators at Blues, Game 2 | Complete Blues-Predators series coverage]


"You know what? That's playoff hockey," Blues coach Mike Yeo said Friday. "Absolutely it's not easy. It's not easy to stay in the process. I think that affected us last game. They might score first tonight. That's hockey. So how do we react if that happens? There might be a bad bounce, there might be a bad call, and we just have to make sure we keep playing. On the flip side we might score first tonight. If that's the case we want to make sure we stay aggressive and we keep playing."

The Blues have other mental areas they need to address, such as discipline to avoid allowing the Predators' power play to beat them like it did in Game 1. But the biggest one is to realize they are playing at home, they have been the best team in the NHL since Yeo took over as coach Feb. 1 and they are the higher-seeded team in the series.

They need to embrace how good they are.

"This is Game 2 tonight. Game 1 is over," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "All you can do about those games is focus on the positives that we generated and bring those positives forward, because we're a good hockey club when we have all the things going the right way. The line, I guess, would essentially just be making sure we're all prepared and ready to put our best game together tonight."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Parayko shows patience, goes five-hole

Yeo acknowledged how difficult it will be for the Blues to find that line Friday.

"It's a very fine line," he said. "That's our challenge right now. So for me, I want to see us play this game with confidence, I want to see us go out there and execute and be aggressive in our game. But you have to make sure you don't go over the line and beat ourselves in a lot of the ways that we did last game. The flip side of that, you can't be uptight. There's no reason we shouldn't be confident tonight. We know it's a tough task, we know that it's a good hockey team and we know how big the game is. Every game is big in the playoffs."

But not every game in the playoffs has the consequences of this one, and it's a situation the Blues haven't faced yet after going up 3-0 in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild and winning it in five games.

The line Yeo was referring to concerns urgency, and how if you don't have enough you can get buried by the opposition. But if you have too much you can bury yourself.

"Sometimes you start overplaying things and you start to overlook things and start to get maybe too aggressive in certain areas and you can generate offense for them or generate opportunities for them," Parayko said. "It's the ability to make the reads on the play, and if you're going to be aggressive in certain areas you know that you have teammates in their spots to back you up."

The urgency line is one the Blues absolutely must straddle if they hope to tie the series and avoid being in a 2-0 hole heading to what surely will be a raucous Bridgestone Arena for Game 3 on Sunday.

In order to do so, they probably have to avoid thinking about what happens if they don't.

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