ST. LOUIS (AP) Besides winning their playoff opener in overtime over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues hoped to exact a physical toll.
The Blues were credited with outhitting the Chicago Blackhawks 41-24 in Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory.
They got some unlikely contributions, too, with rookie forward Robby Fabbri sending Michal Rozsival to the dressing room with a well-timed check.
“Just playoff hockey, a lot of emotions,” Fabbri said. “I just got knocked over right before that, just thought I’d try and get someone back.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said there are no physical issues with his team. Chicago anticipates forward Andrew Ladd will be in the lineup, too, after the player returned to Chicago just in time for the birth of a child.
Quenneville scoffed at Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s statement that he’d like the Blues to get 70 hits in Game 2 on Friday night.
“I hope he tries to go to 70, it means we got the puck the whole (game),” Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks won’t be pushed around. They also hope to counteract the Blues’ physical play with speed.
“Every team tries to be physical and get in on the forecheck and things like that,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “For us, we want to play our game and get the puck up to our forwards and try to create things off the rush, use our speed and get pucks to the net.”
Over the long haul, the Blues expect the hits to add up. They believe they’re the deeper team.
“It’s not just pounding,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Every opportunity you have to make them play an honest game and play hard, come later in the series it’s going to pay off.”
Shattenkirk remembered being affected by the uptick in physical play in the postseason earlier in his career.
“As a player when you’re constantly getting bumped into, it can be frustrating if you let it get to you,” Shattenkirk said.
“Especially guys who like to skate with the puck, who like to join the rush, who just want to really not be touched out there, you find yourself almost like you’re in quicksand.”
“Maybe you bruise a guy up and it just affects him a little bit, and that’s something we’re trying to do.”
The Blues make no apologies for the bad bounce that resulted in the only goal.
David Backes was attempting a cross-ice pass to Alexander Steen, loading up for a one-timer, when the puck deflected off defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s skate and trickled between Corey Crawford‘s pads.
“In overtime, there’s no such thing as a bad shot,” Backes said. “It was ugly, but it counts.”
The Blackhawks also realize it’s just one game.
“I don’t think you ever just brush it off,” Seabrook said. “But I think for our group, we’ve been here before and we’ve been in this situation. We’re a confident group.”
Related: “No human can withstand that many hits”