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 left wing Jaden Schwartz answered questions on a variety of season-ending issues, including taking on a bigger role next season after career highs in goals (25), assists (31) and points (56):
Disappointing because same scenario happened again?
Yeah it's disappointing when you don't reach your goal. To lose in the first round again, kind of the same thing that happened like last year, no one here's happy. If it doesn't motivate you to get better this summer then I don't know what will. We're all disappointed here and tough to talk about right now, but when you get some time to think about it and you watch these teams keep playing, obviously that's going to frustrate you even more. It's tough right now.
Why do you feel like it went wrong again after a 2-0 series start?
We're playing the defending champs again so they've been through that before. But that's no excuse. When you get a 2-0 lead, you're in a good spot. You want to try to get a split, try to get a win in Chicago to give you some momentum. They're tight games. Every game could have gone either way, puck-luck and the bounces, power plays and what-not. We didn't play well, but in the playoffs, winning's the only thing that matters. We had our chances and we couldn't execute. We missed a lot of scoring chances and against teams like that, when you're missing Grade-A chances, they're going to bury theirs more times than not. That was part of it.
Lacking killer instinct?
I personally think the killer instinct's there. We all knew how important those games were. We wanted the win more than any other game. We didn't want them getting any momentum. We knew how a win would help us. It's not like we went in there and we wanted them back into it or anything. Our game plan going in was to win both, but if you lose that first one, you want to come back with a chance to win the series. We couldn't get a a lot of bounces or not scoring a goal in Game 3 hurts a little bit. We'll have win to think about it and it motivates you. I don't think it's a matter of the killer instinct's not there. It's not easy beating the defending champs four in a row or in five. We knew it was going to be a long series.
On your play along with Vladimir Tarasenko; expecting bigger roles:
I'm excited to get back again. I want to come and play a big part on this team. I feel like I've learned a lot this year. I know he did, too. I think it gives you a little more confidence maybe coming into next year. I'm going to work hard coming in here next year. I want to be a big part of this team. I played pretty well this season. There's always things you can improve on and things I can learn. I was pretty happy with the way the the regular season went. As the season went on, I felt like my role got bigger and I kind of wanted to keep that momentum going into next year.
On fans being upset:
We're all disappointed. They are, we are. It's never fun when you lose. There's going to be 29 other teams in this league doing the same thing. They're not going to be happy. We've got great fans and we want them continuing to support us and have that belief that we'll reach our goal here. We're going to do everything we can to do that next year. It's not easy; it's hard. We're all disappointed, so it's understandable.