Blues hope to pen new end to script they’ve seen before
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter April 26, 2014 7:26PM
Updated: May 28, 2014 6:51AM
The similarities between the Blues’ first-round playoff series against the Kings last spring and their current one against the Blackhawks are as astounding as they are disturbing for St. Louis.
Both Game 1s ended with an overtime goal by Blues’ Alex Steen at the Scottrade Center. Both Game 2s ended with Barret Jackman scoring the game-winning goal to give the Blues a 2-0 series lead. Both Game 3s saw the Blues get shut out despite outshooting their opponent by nine. Both Game 4s saw the Blues squander a 3-2 lead in the third period to lose 4-3. And both Game 5s saw Alex Pietrangelo send the game to overtime off an assist by Jaden Schwartz, only for the Blues to lose 3-2 in overtime.
Last spring, the Blues completed their agonizing series loss with a 2-1 defeat in Game 6. Will they suffer a similar fate Sunday against the Hawks?
‘‘We have a chance to write our own legacy,’’ Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. ‘‘Everybody is probably writing: ‘Here they go again. They’re challenging the top teams, but can they get through the top teams?’ . . . But we have a chance to write the message that you guys have to print, so it’s in our control. And I want to see us embrace this.’’
The series has been so close, with each team having a chance to win every game. So even with the haunting similarities to last spring, the Hawks don’t necessarily think they’re in the Blues’ heads.
‘‘I don’t think so; they’re a good team,’’ Hawks winger Bryan Bickell said. ‘‘That was last year; this is this year.’’
A fun fight
For whoever wins this series, it’ll be interesting to see if the effect is positive (raising their game immediately) or negative (physically and emotionally draining). So far, Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson doesn’t think the series has taken too much of a toll.
‘‘It’s so fun to play these kind of games,’’ he said. ‘‘You don’t really think too much about being tired. Personally, I feel great. I can’t complain about being tired at all.’’
Ready and rested
To keep the team fresh, the Hawks haven’t held a practice since the series began.
‘‘In between game days, [we stay] off the ice and make sure we’re maxing out with our energy on game day,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘We always say they don’t want to practice, anyway. And just having a non-productive practice sometimes can be deteriorating to your team game.’’