Team fine with going back to work on heels of shutout, three games in four nights
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Here are the Blues, coming off a shutout victory Thursday, staring at another set of three games in four nights. It's the second set of three out of four already this abbreviated season.
So instead of pacing themselves, maybe take Friday off to keep the body, the legs and mind fresh, what did the Blues do?
"We got the win yesterday, we came in, we practiced, we put back on the work boots and we got ready for Dallas," right wing Chris Stewart said. "We've got to take that mentality every day."
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Chris Stewart (middle) and the Blues put the work boots back on Friday
after shutting out Nashville Thursday night.
It's a mentality build for champions, and that's where the Blues want to get -- to a championship level.
The Blues (3-1-0), who play at 2-1-1 Dallas Saturday (7 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), knew when the schedule came out the opening stretch would be brutal, playing six games in nine days. For a team that's been together for a few short weeks and hasn't played any organized hockey together since May of last year, that's a tough challenge for anybody.
But instead of basking in the fact the Blues are now perfect on home ice with consecutive shutouts to start the season for the first time in franchise history, holding Nashville to 13 shots and playing a flawless game, they were back on the ice Friday at the Ice Zone working on achieving greater success.
"The reality is we still have a lot of room for improvement in certain areas and that's what we were out there today working on," left wing Andy McDonald said. "Because we do have the four lines and the six, seven D that can play, it allows guys that would be a little bit fresher for today at a practice day when maybe if you normally don't have that depth, guys that would potentially play more minutes wouldn't be able to come out and practice today. It all helps, it all benefits. Hopefully we can keep going."
Most teams would assume a day off would be in order playing three games in four days, which is not out of the question in any given sequence. But in order for the Blues to take that necessary step up the hill after a great 2011-12, they are prepared to do what is needed on the ice -- and off it as well in order to be able to maximize their continuous time on the clock.
"It's not a matter of what you do here as much as it is once you go home and get away from the rink," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "Everyone can put on a show here. It's a matter of what you're eating for dinner, for lunch and how you're feeding your body and sleeping at night is probably the most important thing right now. You want to make sure you're getting 8-10 hours of sleep every night and making sure you're rested."
And that's where a veteran coach like Ken Hitchcock understands his players best.
(From left to right): Patrik Berglund, David Backes and T.J. Oshie
celebrate a goal Thursday night against Nashville.
"He knows when to practice and knows when to give us days off," Shattenkirk said of his coach. "When we do have these practices, sometimes it is tough to get through it, but we have a team that seems to get through it every time. Just suck it up, get on the ice, have a good practice and make sure you're getting something out of it and go to work."
And as cliche as it sounds, "You just take it one day at a time," Stewart said. "We're coming into games expected to win. We have to put the last one behind us. You don't want to be too high, you don't want to be too low. You want to have that short-term memory.
"Obviously it's going to be a condensed schedule, but we've got scheduled off-days that you're going to get your rest. It's going to be up to that guy to go home and actually get his rest, come back the next day and be ready to go. ... We're all good to come into the rink here. We're going to take every day serious. We're going to try getting better every day."
* NOTES -- Hitchcock said Friday after practice Jaroslav Halak, who got the 13-save shutout Thursday, would start against the Stars. Also, Thursday's lineup would remain in tact, which means Jamie Langenbrunner, Matt D'Agostini and Ian Cole will be healthy scratches.