Friday, April 13, 2012

Expect adjustments in personnel, game plan for Blues

Team doesn't want to to go to San Jose down 0-2, facing desperation to win

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues showed up ready, eager and willing to be better than they were on Thursday night.

Even though there were good portions of a 3-2 double-overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Blues came in with the type of attitude Friday after a tough loss that a coach wanted to see.

But with every loss at this time of year comes adjustments, and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said to expect them from the Blues.

He just wouldn't name any.
(Getty Images)
David Perron (57) and the Blues hope to knock Dan Boyle (right) and the
San Jose Sharks back a notch and even up their playoff series Saturday.

"It's our turn to make adjustments. We've got to make adjustments," Hitchcock said. "Any time you lose, you don't want to stand and live on the just-abouts, so we're going to have to make some adjustments.

"For whatever reason, our best period was the first overtime. That was our chance. We really played well. I thought they played a little better than we did in the third even though we got the two goals, but I thought we really played well in the first overtime. Obviously the second one didn't last very long."

And with that, the Blues were in no mood to pat themselves on the back. There were video sessions, players willing to listen to what the coaches had in store, including what changes will be made.

"We're in the playoffs now. It's results-oriented," said Blues captain David Backes, who was held shotless in 24:53 of ice time. "We just need to be better. Portions of the game, we really controlled it and portions of it, they controlled us. We've got to make sure that we sway those scales in our favor. If we do that, we're a dangerous team. When we don't, we leave it up to coin-flip type opportunities. Two overtimes ... it was there. We could have won that game, but a little bit more was needed."

In the first overtime when the Blues outshot the Sharks 14-8, there were a number of quality opportunities to beat Antti Niemi, but the Sharks netminder was up to the task. What the Blues needed was more time like they had in the first extra session.

"You have to take away the positives and you've got to look at the negatives and find ways to even get better," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It's never going to be a perfect game. If it was, you'd win every game.

"We're feeling pretty good in here still with the performance that we had. It's not always going to take 60 minutes. It might take more. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end last night."

So for a veteran coach like Hitchcock, his message was pretty simple.

"It's more keeping them hungry," Hitchcock said. "We're hungry and we want more. We're not living on the fact that we played well and lost. We want more. I think there's a fine line at this level between being happy to be here and being happy to want more. We're hungry, we want more. We think we can play better.
(Getty Images)
David Backes (right) said coach Ken Hitchcock's message to the team was
it needed more players on board. The Blues will look to even their best-of-7
series with the Sharks Saturday night.

"I don't put any stock until four games are won anymore. Oh-two, Boston wins [in the opening round last season against Montreal]. They're facing closure three times. I don't put any stock until the four games are over."

But the Blues certainly don't want to go out West to San Jose down 0-2.

"There should be urgency every game," Blues veteran winger Jamie Langenbrunner said. "That must-win gets thrown out a lot in the playoffs, but you play every game as a must-win. You don't want to give teams momentum, you don't want to fall down games. You play every game that way. Our focus is going to be no different when it comes to that point of us wanting to win. It's going to be what we're willing to do in order to do that. I think maybe we learned a little lesson in playoff hockey and the desperation we're going to need to play with.

"We need to be better. You win or lose in this league because you don't do enough."

Backes said Hitchcock's message to the team was, "We need more guys on board. You can't have any passengers. You need guys that are willing to go to the game plan and do everything they can to impliment it at full-speed with everything that they can. We're working on it. It's a work in progress."

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