By LOU KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Blues players were on hand Wednesday to clean out their lockers and belongings one final time after their season ended in the Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk answered questions on a variety of season-ending issues:
More disappointment this year than last?
Yeah. Not that we made excuses last year, but we took steps last year, I think, and this year, we took steps backwards. For guys like us to be in that same position, if we're going to learn from it, we're going to have to change and do something about it ... win two more games and win the series, close the series out and we didn't do it. It's disappointing and it falls on our shoulders.
Changes in off-season; do you have to prepare for that?
Yeah, I think if you win the Stanley Cup, there's going to be changes made in the locker room. That's just the nature of the business and obviously with the way things have gone the last two years, Army's a guy who's going to make changes to try to put the best team forward, the best playoff team forward. Whatever they may be, we're going to have to wait and see.
3-5 year window. Three years in a row, eliminated by four-game sweeps. What needs to change as far as on-ice product? Lack of a killer instinct?
The first year against L.A. when we were swept, it was really like a smack in the face. And then we got out to 2-0 leads and then we're doing it because we're playing the right way early in series. You just have to stay with that game plan and ... it's hard because you're playing the same team over and over again. They're going to make changes in their game plan. We have to make our changes as well, adjust and execute. But at the end of the day, it comes down to burying a team. I don't think that that's not in this locker room, but it hasn't been there the last two years. We have to collectively go and try to find reasons why and try to change that within our team.
Fan anger ... understand the way they feel?
Absolutely. I don't hold anything against them for that. They're entitled to being upset about this. Of course we are too. For them on the outside looking in, it's hard because they just have to go through it every year and have been waiting a long time. We obviously want to be the ones to change that and give them what we know they deserve and to really kind of under-perform this year, it hurts.
Killer instinct come from within or taught?
I don't know if it can be taught. I think you can find it. That's something you can develop over time going through more situations. You can feel out a series the more you play in playoffs and the more you understand when those moments present themselves. You really have to finish a team. We've seen those moments now and we haven't been able to do it, but I definitely think you can collectively develop that within a team.
Step back, process it. Bigger hunger next year, but do you need to take a hard look at this and reflect?
You have to. If you don't, then we'll be here same time next year. It's tough. We don't want to go through this again to be honest. That's just what it comes down to. We have to really look at this and individually look and think about what you can change and what you can do better and as a group, figure out a new way to approach this thing and develop and become a better team.
What can you do better moving forward?
I think in this series, I played well at the beginning and kind of tapered off towards the end. That's something right now that's really been bothering me. That consistency that you have to play with in playoffs and the mental aspect of it, which is something that I think I really need to grow. Just become mentally tougher and be able to keep putting the same product out game in, game out in the playoffs. That's kind of the aspect that I need to really step up and mature as a player mentally.