The St. Louis Blues’ belief in their ability to repeat as Stanley Cup champions wasn’t deterred by their performance in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
“I think any team in this league, it’s going to be tough to win four games against us,” Blues forward David Perron said Tuesday.
The Vancouver Canucks, the No. 5 seed, will be the first team to try when they play the No. 4 seed Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Canucks series coverage]
St. Louis was 0-2-1 in the round-robin in Edmonton, the West hub city, losing 2-1 to the Colorado Avalanche on a buzzer-beater by Nazem Kadri on Aug. 2, 6-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Aug. 6, and 2-1 in a shootout to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
The Blues held a lead in the third period in each of the games.
“It would have been nice to win all three games and play better, but this team, we’re gamers,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “When the game is on the line in big situations, we all want to be out there. We’re all excited to get this thing going. We knew we were going to be in the playoffs … obviously we wanted to be able to play better, but to be able to flip that switch, if there is a group that is going do it, it’s going to be us.”
Blues coach Craig Berube said he is still skeptical based on some of his observations in the three losses.
“Our guys understand that this is what it’s all about here now, but at the same time, there are things that I saw in the round-robin that I was not happy with,” Berube said. “Our execution has got to be a lot better, and you can’t just turn that on whenever you feel like it. There could be some things that we still have to work out here going forward, but I think our guys understand how to play in the playoffs, what you have to do to win, so that’s a good sign for us.”
Pietrangelo said he’d like to see the Blues be more assertive offensively.
St. Louis scored six goals and averaged 23.7 shots on goal per game in the round-robin, including scoring four on 17 shots against Vegas. The Blues gave up 38 shots on goal in each game and allowed nine goals.
“I know we’ve been giving up [almost] 40 shots,” Pietrangelo said. “I think part of that is we’re not playing aggressive enough offensively and making these teams defend. I think if we can create a little bit more, put teams on their heels, it’ll make things a lot easier for us.”
Perron said that starts with the Blues’ forecheck, a staple of their game that was missing for the majority of the round-robin. He said he thinks that might have been a result of playing postseason games but not a postseason series.
“After the games, we obviously didn’t play the way we’d like in most of them. I always felt I wanted to play these guys again the next day,” Perron said. “That’s how it’s going to go with Vancouver.
“I think playing against the same opponent, we’re going to be able to come back after each and every game and make adjustments, talk about what we can do better. From there, we’re going to keep getting better every game.”