Thursday, March 20, 2014

After humbling loss, Blues must reset

Defeat against Blackhawks leaves St. Louis 
no choice but to regroup for more tough road games

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues went into Chicago on Wednesday night riding high, winning eight of nine (8-0-1) with the chance to really put a stranglehold on the division.

Over the course of 82 games, it's not going to be perfect every night. The Blues just happened to pick that imperfect night against the team their fans least want to see it against.

The Blackhawks made a statement of their own, when coach Ken Hitchcock said, "they dialed it up ... they took it to us."
(St. Louis Blues)
Roman Polak (46) and the Blues had a tough time chasing down Marcus
Kruger and the rest of the Blackhawks Wednesday night.

The result was a 4-0 wipeout that left the Blues (47-15-7) ready to hit the reset button, which can be good at times of need.

And the Blues, who didn't get much of anything going in all three zones, have no choice but to reset and move forward.

"Sometimes teams get the best of you," defenseman Barret Jackman said. "It's an easier pill to swallow when you just get outplayed and you play hard, but we let them roll over us in most of the areas and really didn't come out with the effort that we need 25 days before the playoffs start.

"It's a learning experience for us," defenseman Barret Jackman said. "Hopefully we learn from it."

The Blues allowed more than two goals in regulation for the first time in 12 games, and it didn't matter who was in goal: Ryan Miller, who allowed four goals on 27 shots, or Brian Elliott, who replaced Miller after Ben Smith's goal.

"We just didn't play well in front of him," Blues captain David Backes said of Miller, who fell to 7-1-1 with the Blues. "He's been great since he's been here. He'll continue to be that way.

"It's not going to go flawlessly. It's 82 games, which is a long season. You're going to have speed bumps. With games like this, you'd hope the level would go up and you would match an opponent to be able to play through some hard play, but we'll evaluate, regroup and come back to play some hard games on the road trip that continues."

These games occur for everyone throughout the season. From a Blues perspective, it's just surprising it happened against this opponent in a big game.

"It's not surprising in some sense that they're the defending Stanley Cup champions and we didn't play very well," defenseman Ian Cole said. "It's (the) kind of (result) to be expected when you don't play your game or the way we can play. Obviously they're a very good team. We've got to play way better to keep up with them and obviously we didn't do that.
(St. Louis Blues)
The Hawks' Jonathan Toews helped make Canadian Olympic teammate
and Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo's night a tough one Wednesday.

"You definitely have got to learn from it and get better. Hit the reset button but definitely get better."

The Blues had a day off Thursday and will get back on the ice Friday before starting a trip that will take them through three games in four days. It starts with Philadelphia, then Pittsburgh and finally, Toronto.

"Sometimes you don't play well, but it's all how you respond," Jackman said. "We're looking forward to doing it after a couple days here off and then back at it on the weekend."

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