Right down to the 4-3 overtime score, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 in a way that seemingly mirrored how St. Louis won Game 1 and 2. It’s something that Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock admitted to noticing.
The series is now tied 2-2 with a Game 5 in St. Louis approaching. The two teams are so tightly matched that the goals total only favors Chicago by one.
It’s probably not surprising that Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville admitted that this was a big win and also acknowledged just how hard-fought this first-round bout has been so far.
The Blues hold home-ice advantage while the Blackhawks have two recent Stanley Cup victories and some more name recognition, so it’s difficult to handicap what’s become a best-of-three series. If the first four games are any indication, the margin of victory might be slim and there could be a few more twists and turns.
The St. Louis Blues played a valiant Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks without captain David Backes.
Losing 2-0 and surrendering an empty-net goal in the closing seconds is nothing to get down about, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has all faith they won’t be without Backes for much longer.
Following the loss, Hitchcock told reporters he believes Backes will be back for them soon, and when he does things will pick up for his team in a big way.
“We get (David) Backes back in the next two or three games, we’re going to even go higher,” Hitchcock said.
There hasn’t been a timetable set for when Backes might return from the injury he suffered when he was charged by Chicago’s Brent Seabrook in Game 2. As you know, Seabrook received a three-game suspension for the hit and Backes was knocked out of the game and did not play on Sunday night.
There’s no doubt the Blues are a better team with Backes on the ice, but if he’s dealing with a head injury playing it cool while he gets better is for the best.
As expected, there aren’t many specifics regarding the condition of St. Louis Blues captain David Backes, particularly if he’ll be able to play in Game 3. Even so, Blues head coach Ken Hitchock’s vague update probably says a lot:
Other than that, Hitchcock was careful to avoid the kind of comments that might draw a fine.
While it might slip under the radar thanks to the higher profile hit by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, Hitchcock also expressed concern about Vladimir Sobotka’s knee after a collision with ‘Hawks forward Bryan Bickell.
Seabrook defended the check he delivered, but Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville avoided making a comment; he told CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers that he hasn’t had time to analyze the hit just yet.
Not surprisingly, Blues such as Alex Pietrangelo expressed their displeasure in ways that their coach could not.
However both teams – not to mention the league – feel about that blow on Backes, NHL.com’s Lou Korac reports that it was a motivational moment for the Blues.
“As soon as that hit happened, we’re like, ‘We’re winning this for him,'” Chris Porter said.
It remains to be seen if Backes will be healthy enough and if Seabrook will be suspended through Game 3, which takes on Monday in Chicago.
If this weekend was a test to see if the St. Louis Blues are ready for the playoffs, then the results were troubling. The Blues fell short against the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
“It’s a wake-up call right now, and we have to figure it out,” Blues goaltender Brian Elliott said, per CSN Chicago. He stopped 31 of 34 shots in St. Louis’ 4-2 loss to Chicago.
Elliott didn’t want to highlight a specific problem with the Blues, but did suggest that they need to play as a team in order to succeed. St. Louis doesn’t have a player with more than 60 points this season, but they have tremendous depth as well as strong goaltending.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock thinks that the team needs to use their final games to “re-energize.”
“I think we had fits at both games. We were really good for the first period yesterday (against Colorado), we had fits in this game, but I think the details of our game are probably lacking,” Hitchcock said. “We look like we’re a little bit tired, so the details that fit us so well and the energy to put those details in place are probably lacking a little bit right now.”
Expectations are high for the Blues after a superb showing in the regular season and the acquisition of goaltender Ryan Miller. They are likely to finish the season with the top seed in the Western Conference and play against Phoenix or Dallas in the first round.
Sounds as though St. Louis will be without top goal man Alex Steen for both of this weekend’s games against Colorado and Chicago.
Steen, who sat out Thursday’s 2-1 win over Buffalo with an upper-body injury, is definitely out versus the Avs on Saturday and “likely” out for Sunday’s big tilt against Chicago on Sunday, head coach Ken Hitchcock said.
It’s been a tough campaign for Steen health-wise — disappointing, given it’s also been the best offensive season of his career. The Swede has a career-high 33 goals and is tied with T.J. Oshie for the team lead with 60 points, despite only playing in 64 games.
Steen missed significant time in December and January with a concussion, his second in as many years, yet still showed the Blues organization enough to ink a three-year, $17.4 million extension in mid-Decmeber.
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Steen will be held out of Sunday’s game against Chicago. The Blackhawks will be without two of their leading scorers, as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been shut down for the remainder of the regular season to rest their respective injuries.