ST. LOUIS - What a close series we have between the Blues and Blackhawks through four games.
The series is tied 2-2. The Blues have scored 11 goals, the Blackhawks 12. Both teams have two power-play goals in the series. Did we expect anything else from these Western Conference powerhouses?
“This series is probably right where it belongs,” Ken Hitchcock said following practice on Thursday. “Neither team is giving an inch. Both teams are, for me, fully-invested in trying to win this series. Nobody is going away. They’re not going away, we’re not going away.”
That should make for an exciting Game 5, which begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, Y98 FM).
The Blues won the first two games of the series and the Blackhawks have taken the momentum with wins in Games 3 and 4. But after four games, it comes down to a best-of-3 and a big opportunity for St. Louis.
“It’s about us getting to our game, them getting to their game, and whoever does it more is going to win the hockey game,” Hitchcock said. “It’s a big time for us. We’re trying to slay the dragon I guess you could say. We’re trying to prove that we belong in the top echelon…it’s a shame someone’s got to lose this series because of what both organizations are putting into this thing right now, but somebody’s got to go down, so I’d rather it be them than us.”
Added defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, “We’re not in a bad spot. It’s tied and we still have home-ice (advantage). We have a good opportunity here.”
With Game 5, the series shifts back to Scottrade Center, a place that hasn’t been kind to the Blackhawks recently. Dating back to last season, Chicago has lost five consecutive games at Scottrade Center. Their last win was April 14, 2013 (2-0).
“To be honest, going to St. Louis – whether it’s regular season or the playoffs, it’s always a hostile environment,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp. “I give a lot of credit to their fans for making that building a tough place to play. The Blues certainly play well at home.”
Added Patrick Kane: “They’re going to be fired up, and that’s always a tough place to play.”
The Blues are expecting another standing room only crowd for tonight’s Game 5.
David Backes didn’t skate with the team today, and Hitchcock offered no update other than to say he won’t rule him out tonight.
“You never know. He might just jump on the ice and be there, skating in warm-ups, and you can all press ‘send’ on your tweets.”
Oh, and one other note from Hitchcock: Like Chicago, there are a lot of other rinks in St. Louis.
Vladimir Tarasenko leads the NHL in playoff goals with four. He scored twice in Game 4 and has five goals in his last five games vs. Chicago.
Kevin Shattenkirk has one goal and four assists (five points) in the playoffs, which is tied for second overall among defensemen.
This is the sixth playoff series in Blues history that has featured at least three overtime games.
Vladimir Sobotka has one goal and three assists in his last four games vs. the Blackhawks.
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