Thursday, April 11, 2019


Blues know series is just getting started, need to play better to try to go up 2-0 
on road; Scheifele knows Binnington got best of him; players like fiery Berube

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Blues have been in this position before and know it's one game.

But it was a massive Game 1 win, 2-1 over the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference first round, and the conclusion the Blues came to wanting to come out of Manitoba with two wins and command of the series?

"We played fairly well. We had some breakdowns, they had some chances, both ways," Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "There were some odd-man rushes and things like that. They've got a good team. They've got skilled guys and guys that don't need a lot of room to get good chances. Bottom line is I think whoever's going to control the puck and control the play is going to control what they give up.

"... We know that it's one game and tomorrow's going to be another game and there's going to be another game after that. You can't really get too ahead of yourself."

The Blues, who held a light optional skate Thursday at Bell MTS Place with nine skaters (Jake Allen, Carl Gunnarsson, Michael Del Zotto, Robby Fabbri, Oskar Sundqvist, Zach Sanford, Sammy Blais, Mackenzie MacEachern amd Chris Thorburn), know they have to play better and know they can be better for Game 2 on Friday (8:30 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

It took an exceptional game in his first playoff game from Jordan Binnington in goal (24 saves), including a game-saver with 12.4 seconds remaining in regulation, and clutch third-period goals from David Perron to tie it and Tyler Bozak's eventual game-winner with 2 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in regulation.

"Yeah, we got better as the game went on," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "We knew it was going to be tough to start here. They're obviously a good team at home. But the big thing is a win, right? Not always in the fashion you want. I think we got to our game a little later than we wanted to. But we played real good in the third period. That's a good thing leading into tomorrow."

O'Reilly suggested that perhaps the Blues stole a win here in Game 1, but not everyone was of that belief.

"I thought it was an even game, to be honest with you," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "Good chances both ways. Goalies played well. Hard, physical game. It's tight. There's not a lot of room out there. Both teams checked well. Fortunately, we got two goals. That's how I look at it."

"Well, seeing as we were down 1-0 going into the third, but I thought the way we were playing, we stayed sound and we stayed patient with our game," Blues forward and Winnipeg native Alexander Steen said. "As the game kept moving along, I thought our confidence grew. We got two huge goals there in the third."

* Scheifele stoned -- Binnington's save on Scheifele, who led the Jets with 38 goals during the regular season, may be viewed down the road as what changed the series should the Blues go on and win it.

If Scheifele scores there, it's 2-2 and heading into overtime and who knows what happens there. But the Jets would have grabbed momentum again, and should they have won Game 1, it backs the Blues into a corner and in a bit of a must-win for Game 2.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot.

"Obviously, I wish it would have went in," Scheifele said. "I didn’t put it where I wanted to, but that’s the way hockey goes.

"I saw it. I know what happened. I lived it. Don’t need to beat a dead horse. Obviously, I wish it would have gone in."

The Blues are glad it didn't.

"We gave up some chances and 'Binner' came up solid for us, especially there at the end, Scheifele had a good shot, and 'Binner' was massive, but we had some very good looks throughout the game as well, and as expected, it was back and forth," Steen said. "High pace, high intensity. It was a good one."

Most teams starting on the road would be happy with a split going home, but the Blues have to come in and be selfish.

"Yeah, that was a huge first win for us, especially for them outplaying us and hanging in the third and 'Binner' playing the way he did, we took that one, maybe even stole that one," O'Reilly said. "For us, a good response, and we can do that. That game is behind us, we have to find a new way and we’re going to need to play a lot better to win this game. But we’re just taking it one at a time."

"It would be nice to go 2-0 but we're going to expect to get (challenged)," Pietrangelo said. "Obviously, it's big getting that first one on the road, especially on the road. But we've got to expect an even better effort from them. They're good at home. They're going to use that energy again."

Speaking of Scheifele, he said his run-in with Binnington 34 seconds into the game behind the Blues' net was unintentional. It drew a two-minute interference call on the Jets center.

"It’s a tough play," Scheifele said. "I was trying very desperately to get out of the way. Obviously, I’m not a guy that’s going go out and try and hit a goaltender. So it’s one of those plays where I feel like I’m entitled to my ice. He just tosses the puck to the other side and if I go one way and he goes the same way, I’m hitting him way harder than I did. I tried very hard to get out of the way. Refs made the call." 

* Steen brushes off end-of-game fisticuffs -- As the horn sounded signaling the end of a highly-intense game, Steen and Scheifele came nose to nose and Scheifele threw a left-handed shot at Steen, who was seconds earlier upset with Scheifele for putting in some extra pokes of the puck after Binnington made that incredible save.

When asked about it today, Steen brushed it off.

"Just competitive," Steen said. "Competitive players. Nothing big. Playoffs."

* Fired up Berube -- Not only was Steen miffed at Scheifele, so was Berube, who exchanged some words with the Jets center as he was departing the ice.

"It was nothing," Berube said. "Just things happen. I'm emotional too, at times."

At times?

"You know Chief, he's an intense man," O'Reilly said. "There were a lot of emotions at the end of the game there. But yeah I think it was something that, he's definitely got our back and it's nice to see.”

"At the time, you go 'whoa,’ I think, but looking back, it's a little funny. Yeah, those are the emotions of the game and he’s emotional, but it's something we feed off of."

The Blues indeed feed off their coach, and it's translated in wins.

"He's sticking up for his players," Pietrangelo said. "We know he's got our back. I don't think anyone's going to mess with him if they've watched him over the years.

"Yeah, he gets fired up. Watch his highlights. Yeah, there's a few of them out there."

* O'Reilly rally towels -- For those in attendance for Game 3 on Sunday at Enterprise Center at 6:30 p.m. will get the traditional Blues rally towels, and this one will feature O'Reilly.

It's a blue-clad towel with the Blues jersey emblem on them, giving it a feel of a Blue Sea, compared to the Jets' Whiteout.

"That’s cool," O'Reilly said. "That will be exciting to see that. I’ve heard great things about our building. Hopefully get another win here and go back there and do some more damage.

"I have a ton of family in town, so I’m sure they’ll be racking them in. My mom will probably have a few hundred for sure."

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