Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blues use Backes hit as rallying cry

Team responds with late goal, winner in 
OT to take 2-0 series lead against Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- David Backes is known as the heart and soul of the Blues. He wears the 'C' on his sleeve.

And when their captain was sent flying into the right corner from a vicious check by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series, the question that remained was in what fashion would the Blues respond.

Seabrook, who was given a five-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct, would put his team, already down 1-0 in the series, in a precarious position.

The Blues used the late hit as a rallying cry. They tied the game in the waning seconds on a Vladimir Tarasenko goal, then got Barret Jackman's overtime goal in a 4-3 victory and a 2-0 series lead.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Blues trainer Ray Barile holds up Blues captain David Backes (42) after 
he was hit by Chicago's Brent Seabrook. Backes left the game and did 
not return. The Blues came back to defeat the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime.

Were the Blues upset about the Backes hit? Of course. But instead of taking shots the remainder of the game at the Hawks, best players, they figured the best course of action would be to counter-attack on the scoreboard.

Mission accomplished.

"We were kind of getting caught up a little bit in the second and the third, me especially, with kind of the antics after the whistle," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "That’s not going to win us hockey games, being undisciplined. 

"We see them break a little bit there with the hit on David and I think rather than go out there and try to do the same to them, we rallied and really tried to score a goal for him. Because we don't want him to take that hit and not see a result for it, so it's important we do it for him."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who said Backes was "not good," was equally as concerned about a kneeing penalty Vladimir Sobotka took from Bryan Bickell with just over six minutes remaining.

"I have no thoughts on the (Backes) hit," Hitchcock said. "That's up to the league. ... As concerned as I am about Backes hit, I'm really concerned about the hit on Sobe. That was a break of a lifetime to see him still be able to play and skate. Hopefully he's OK tomorrow and he's able to skate. That's the one that concerns me as much as David's."

None of the Blues wanted to publicly comment on if Seabrook deserves a suspension or not. They instead spoke of using the hit as a rallying cry.

"'Backs' is our captain," said center Maxim Lapierre, who screened Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford on the winning goal. "When you see a guy playing every game for us, blocks shots and he hits hard ... he does everything for this team so we owe this one to him.

"I won't comment on (a possible suspension). It's playoffs ... I won't comment."

The Blues were on the power play for the remainder of regulation, and used a dramatic finish on Tarasenko's equalizer.

"At that point it is, yeah," Pietrangelo said. "Once we knew the trainers got a hold of (Backes) there, our mind switched to how we were going to take advantage of the power play."

"At some points this year, we might have gotten too emotional and maybe would have let that kind of hinder our thought process," Jackman said. "We knew it was a five-minute major and we were down by a goal and there's no time for retaliation. 'Backs' is a big boy and he's a big part of this team. You have to move forward and the power play came up big.

"Great character guys in this room, a lot of simple plays. Use our speed, use our puck possession, use our smarts to continue to go. Tonight we showed a lot of character and we battled to the end."

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