Sunday, May 12, 2019

Ability to bounce back in playoffs gives Blues hope for Game 2

After a bad 6-3 loss in Game 1 to San Jose, Blues confident they can 
refocus, fix what ailed them and get back on the rails, try to gain road split 

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Blues know what went wrong on Saturday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks.

"We turned the puck over," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "It was all self-inflicted."

Indeed it was. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan O'Reilly (90) and the Blues will look to bounce back in Game 2 of the
Western Conference Final on Monday against Brent Burns and the Sharks.

The Blues have seen this song before. It happened in Game 3 of the first round against Winnipeg, a 6-3 loss, and it happened in Game 4 of the second round against Dallas, a 4-2 loss. 

Turning pucks over, gaps all over the ice, little to no support on the ice, and goalie Jordan Binnington being hung out to dry. It all added up to a bad recipe and ensuing disaster for the Sharks, who feasted on every blemish.

"They were they better team and it's Game 1," right wing David Perron said. "We have to make a few adjustments but I think it's on each individual to bring it and be a little bit better."

The Blues' ability to bounce back has been spot on in these playoffs, and they feel Monday's Game 2 will be no different.

"Well it's an easy fix," left wing Pat Maroon said. "We gave them everything, I thought. We didn't play our game. They capitalized on our turnovers. Those are easy fixes and we've just got to get back to work. I thought the third period, we got to our game. You could see what we did to them."

It will be the second time in the playoffs the Blues were down in a series, and third time they'll be put to the test.

When Winnipeg stormed back from an 0-2 deficit to tie the series with two road wins, the Blues responded with two wins and closing out the series in six. When Dallas put the Blues on the verge of elimination, they went down and won a road game in Game 6 before winning on home ice in Game 7.

Now it's a bit of a different animal. This time, it's the chance to gain a road split and take away momentum going home. Going down 0-2 would not be ideal.

"I think we can be better and I think we will be," said Binnington, who allowed five goals on 24 shots but is 3-2 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .938 save percentage following a playoff loss. "... I watch the highlights. Nothing too crazy, don't overthink it. Stick to your game and do what's gotten you to this point kind of thing."

The Blues will need their top players to set the tempo, including Vladimir Tarasenko, who did not record his only shot on goal until there were 3:34 remaining in the game and has just one even-strength goal in 14 playoff games. He did have an assist on Joel Edmundson's goal that tied the game 1-1, but is an NHL-worst minus-8 in the playoffs.

"Vladi has to work without the puck a lot harder," Berube said. "And he will. And he's got to get more involved. You can't just wait for things to happen. Especially in the playoffs. You've got to go get it. You've got to go make it yourself. It's about working. It's about working with your line. ... I'll stress it again, we need three guys around the puck."

Brayden Schenn has one goal in 14 games and is a minus-5, and Ryan O'Reilly picked up his first goal in nine games Saturday but has 10 points in 14 games.

"It wasn't a strong game for anybody," Berube said. "I'm not going to focus on one guy. It's a team game."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jordan Binnington makes a save on San Jose's Tomas Hertl on Saturday. The
Blues lost Game 1 6-3 but believe they can bounce back in Game 2.

That team game is what's enabled the Blues to park games, win or lose, and get refocused on the next game, and there's no choice here but to do just that.

"I just think it's over, just throw it out, nothing you can do about it," Maroon said. "You're going to have bad games, teams are going to play good throughout the series. I thought it wasn't that we (didn't) work hard. I thought the first period was pretty good, but just constantly turnovers at certain times that they capitalized on. This is a team that bounces back and we find ways to fix our game and elevate our game and try to do things to get our team back to where it needs to be.

"It's one game. It's a long series, so we've got to find ways just to bounce back. It's one game, focus on what we need to fix, reset, come back and bounce back tomorrow."

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