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NHL Playoffs, Blues At Blackhawks Game 4 Preview

The Blues played good in Game 3; but not quite good enough.

Four Scores, and Several Beers Ago ...
Four Scores, and Several Beers Ago ...
Dilip Vishwanat

For game three, I mentioned the new intro video package at DrinkScotch for the playoffs. The second song that it uses is the wonderful Baba O'Riley from The Who.

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living

The Blues aren't going to be gifted anything; they'll have to fight for every win in this series. That's not exactly a shocker, I know, but there's a large difference between the mere mental awareness of that fact and actually letting that knowledge influence your performance on ice. The Blues seem to be applying that motivation, and it needs to continue... and grow.

From Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times

...Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has correctly boiled down this series to what it really is: a battle of wills. The Blues’ biggest hurdle is that they’re up against a team that can will itself to victory. Their biggest advantage is that they appear to be learning that invaluable trait of a champion.

"[The Hawks are] not a defending champion because they have skill. It’s because they have resolve. You’re trying to beat resolve," Hitchcock said after the Hawks’ 2-0 victory in Game 3. "You’re not trying to beat their skill. Everybody’s got skill. And it is one hell of a challenge.....

There’s a certain resolve that is required to win a championship. And that team over there has got it, and we’re going to take it back from them."

That same article posts an interesting stat: In the previous 4 years worth of playoffs, the Blackhawks are 15-15 in games 1-3 of a series, BUT are 22-6 in games 4-7. In other words, as tough as they've already been, the Hawks have typically found another gear in the latter half of playoff rounds. Expect them to get even better, starting tonight.

I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven

I was quite proud of the boys in game 3. There was no goonery, no attempts at retribution for Cap'n Dave. Just solid hockey for pretty much the entire game. I hope that continues tonight, as well. There will be a time and place for the other stuff, for sure ... but not tonight. We've got bigger issues to worry about. The power play, for one thing... so far we're 1 for 16 with the man advantage. If we can maintain discipline, stay out of the box, but still keep up our physical grinding game, we'll get our chances on the power play. Get the payoff from those, and we'll be well on our way. Just don't take those retaliation penalties.... PLEASE!

Here's an interesting nugget: Of the last 5 Stanley Cup winners, all but 1 had a top-five PK unit (Boston's was ranked 6th). However, only 1 of those same winners had a top-five power play (Chicago in the 2010 run). Nonetheless, I'd like to break the Power Play funk that we're in. However, that also illustrates how important that strong PK unit is for us.

The happy ones are near

Let's get together

Before we get much older

According to Jeremy Rutherford at STL Today, David Backes could be close to returning. Maybe even for tonight's game. Nothing will be stated officially until after today's morning skate, but there's likely something behind JR's optimism:

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock provided no update on Backes, who missed Game 3 after being illegally hit by Chicago's Brent Seabrook in Game 2, but the captain looks to have made enough improvement that his return appears to be better than a 50-50 proposition.

His minutes, his leadership, his hits, and his points are all things that we sorely missed. I have every confidence that the Blues can beat the Hawks without David Backes in the lineup ... but I'd rather he was in there. Don't push yourself too much, Cap'n, but please come back as soon as you're ready.

Further Reading:

Second City Hockey

The Committed Indian

Final Verse: To accommodate the TV schedules, I suppose, we have a late start tonight. The opening faceoff will be at 8:30 PM St Louis time. The local TV broadcast will be on FoxSports MW, and the national broadcast will be on NBC Sports Network. There will be the CBC and RDS feeds as well. The radio call will be on KYKY (Y98) FM. There's an official Watch Party at Ball Park Village, also. Otherwise, come join us here for the gameday thread, won't you? The GDT should drop shortly before the puck does. Until then, gather here, start revving up the hate machine, and hope that we send the Hawks fans crying into their legendarily bad beer tonight ...