The St. Louis Blues aren’t going to be deterred by one loss to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s not a wake-up call,” Blues forward David Perron said.
But the way in which the fourth-seeded Blues lost 5-2 to the fifth-seeded Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday should be enough to grab the attention of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
It was a revelatory 60 minutes that without proper adjustments, both physical and mental, could become repetitive with the series carrying into Game 2 in Edmonton, the West hub city, Friday (6:30 p.m. ET; NHL Network, SN, FS-MW).
“We got a bunch of gamers on this team that like to show up in big-time situations, which is what I think we’re going to see here,” Blues defenseman Justin Faulk said.
The Blues were outscored 3-0 in the third period of Game 1, the continuation of a trend that started in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
They have been outscored 9-0 in the third period in their four postseason games in Edmonton, a big reason they haven’t won yet, including going 0-2-1 in the round-robin.
It’s a change from what they had shown in the past. St. Louis was plus-8 in third-period goal differential (31-23) in the playoffs last year. It was plus-14 (76-62) this season.
“We know we have to be better in the third,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “We’re giving up some goals. We’ve got to tighten up a little bit.”
The Blues are averaging six penalties and 14 penalty minutes per game in the postseason. They’re 6-for-22 on the penalty kill (72.7 percent), including just 3-for-6 in Game 1, when five of their six minor penalties were a result of careless sticks.
They got called for tripping three times, and also took minors for slashing and high sticking. This after having the sixth fewest penalty minutes per game (7:13) in the regular season.
“We got to do a better job,” Berube said. “We can kill a little bit better. But in saying that, when you take 6-7 penalties a game, it really wears guys out.”
“Our discipline has not been very good since we’ve been here. We’ve got to clean that up.”
Berube didn’t like the sequence that led to the Canucks taking a 3-2 lead on defenseman Troy Stecher‘s goal at 5:37 of the third period.
The Canucks beat the Blues on a forecheck to force a turnover that led to defenseman Stecher’s go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal.
“It’s just careless with the puck,” Berube said. “We could have moved it quicker. We could have did something different than we did with it and it’s in our net.”
The Canucks scored twice more after the goal for the 5-2 final.
“That third goal, we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t affect us like it did,” Berube said. “I thought it killed our spirit a little bit, killed our energy and that can’t happen in the playoffs. We’ve got to come out the next shift and get right back at what we were doing well. That’s what we were so good at before.”
The plan to hit, chip, check and generally get in the face of Canucks rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes didn’t seem to have the desired affect based on Hughes’ response.
“Honestly, it’s kind of an honor that they’re going to key on me,” Hughes said.
That gameplan likely should remain for Game 2.
“We knew they weren’t going to be intimidated by us,” Schenn said.
How the defending champs respond in Game 2 will tell a lot about the type of playoff series this could be.
“We’re going to try to build here, get better and try to wear them down,” Schenn said. “That’s what a playoff series is all about.”