Blues forward, signed to a third stint in St. Louis, feels healthier this time
around than last season with Vegas; players can lean on his final experience
ST. LOUIS -- David Perron was not about to sugarcoat it.
Why would he?
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
David Perron (right) celebrates with teammate Sammy Blais after scoring
in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, will get a second chance at
winning a Stanley Cup after losing with Vegas last season.
One year removed from playing in his first Stanley Cup Final for the Vegas Golden Knights, Perron feels healthier, more refreshed and making the kind of impact one needs from the French-Canadian in his third stint with the Blues.
And when a player speaks to the fact that one should enjoy and soak up the feeling of being a participant competing for the Stanley Cup, like the Blues are for the first time in 49 years when they open Monday against the Boston Bruins, they mean it, because who knows how many opportunities, if any, you can get.
For the 31-year-old Perron, he gets a second chance after losing to the Washington Capitals in five games last season.
"I can't believe it. I'm very fortunate," Perron said. "Obviously I'd like to change the result from last year. We're going to have to go one game at a time. We're really definitely really excited to get going. It's nice to get the process going, get skating and get moving, going (today) to Boston. We'll go from there and we'll take it day by day. We're certainly excited. I think we've got to stay in the moment, not worry too much about everything on the outside. That's how we're going to play our best."
Perron, who has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 19 playoff games this season, is one of four players (Oskar Sundqvist, Michael Del Zotto and Jordan Nolan) to have the experience of being on Stanley Cup final teams; Sundqvist with Pittsburgh in 2016, Del Zotto with the New York Rangers in 2012 and Philadelphia in 2015 and Nolan with Los Angeles' Cup-winning sides in 2012 and 2014.
That experience can helpful for those experiencing this for the first time.
"It's pretty cool," Perron said. "We have to turn the page on what we did already and get ready. I thought last year, if anything, that's maybe a small thing that we were guilty of. Not that we didn't try to do it, but I didn't think we played good hockey in the finals. It's definitely something we want to do.
"These guys are ready. For sure, the guys that have been working for it for a long time, they're the ones that are the most ready. They're going to be the ones driving the bus and that's definitely what we need. I think for the young guys, just got to do as good a job as you can and stay in the moment, not worry about family, all that stuff. It's going to take care of itself at the end of the day. The less distractions that we have, the better we can play. I don't really have much to say other than we have to be ready from the start and turn the page, not worry about what we've done already."
Perron's first potential Cup could come at the expense of one of his closest friends on the Blues, David Backes, who he's traded messages with, unlike Alex Pietrangelo, another of Backes' close friends, who didn't return Pietrangelo's text a couple days ago.
"I was in contact with him a little bit in the last little while," Perron said. "I just think at the end of the day, we're going to shake hands and be proud for each other whoever gets it. It is what it is. We work for this our whole lives. Definitely going to do our best that it's us. We'll see what happens.
"I don't know, he text me back. I wouldn't answer Petro either. ... I'm kidding. ... It was brief. We know what's at stake. We know once the puck drops, we're just going to play hockey. We've got to do what we've got to do to help our team. It's what he does over there. He's pretty physical. We know what he brings, so we're ready for it."
If Perron seems more excited about this opportunity than last year, it's understandable all things considered. He was dealing with an assortment of injuries that saw him be in and out of the lineup for the Golden Knights, although he was part of four of five games in the final against the Capitals.
"It was a different run for me last year because I came back from injuries," Perron said. "It was tough because obviously you guys know what I've been going through in my career (with multiple concussions). Not that it was that, but it was kind of related. I'd wake up the next day and I kind of wasn't feeling good every single game. It's tough, it's tough to get energized for another game when you're not feeling good. I think this year I'm feeling good and it's a lot more fun to come to the rink. Not that it wasn't. It was a blast. It was the best year of my life at the time, but it certainly was a different feeling. It was tough to have an impact on games as much as I had at times in the regular season last year. I'm just glad it's different this year."
It was a short summer for Perron, who had 66 points (16 goals, 50 assists) in the regular-season with Vegas last season. Two months after playing his past hockey game, he had already signed a four-year, $16 million contract to return to the Blues for a third stint, then was training again for a new season.
He'll be doing it again this season, minus the contract situation. The security portion is already in place.
"It's a short summer," Perron said. "Last year, I couldn't believe how short the summer was in a way. It's tough to get back into it when it's all done, but definitely the two months, three months of the playoffs, we've been playing playoff hockey for a long time now. I think we're used to it, we're fine. If anything, we have more days off now than we've had at times during the regular season. I think everyone's got injuries, small injuries and things like that, but you've got to work as hard as you can to get through it. That's how you have success."
The Blues have a number of veteran players that can help them through the process of facing a Bruins squad that has multiple players that not only won the Cup in 2011 but were also participants in 2013. And while those veterans are good at keeping things composed during the most trying times, Perron's Cup experience can go a long way.
"We've had a lot of guys that have been in some high-pressure situations that we're looking for to be the voices in the room," said Blues center Ryan O'Reilly, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade the same day the Blues signed Perron. "I think that's nice for a guy to be in that situation for. He knows what it takes and I think at the end of the day, you can see how he handles himself. It's another game, it's another game you've got to win and that's confidence and that's what we need.
"For myself, I've been playing in high-pressure situations and through this experience with us. It's just the confidence I have in this group of guys. I don't think it's an issue at all. We know exactly what we have to do and how we have to play our game and do that over anything. Yeah, they've got some experience, they know what it takes, they've got some really good pieces over there, but at the end of the day, when the puck drops, the puck drops. The team that performs the best and that's our goal."
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
David Perron (57) is among a handful of veterans young Blues players can
lean on to help them through first Stanley Cup Final experience.
It would be quite the feat for Perron to win his first Cup with the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2007 NHL Draft (26th). And since it didn't happen last season, Perron is hoping the second time's the charm against a formidable foe.
"I think we're pretty similar too. We know what type of style they have," Perron said of the Bruins. "It goes back to cliches, play simple and put (the puck) in deep and make their D's turn. They've got obviously some big guys back there, like [Zdeno] Chara, and they've also have some guys that we have to make them play defense as much as possible. It goes back to our game. We've played that way for a long time. We don't really change too much from team to team. I think we're really good at it."