Blues feeling mentally healthy heading into playoffs

Blues feeling mentally healthy heading into playoffs
April 16, 2014, 11:30 am
Nina Falcone

The St. Louis Blues have had a number of injuries to deal with as of late, but the team is feeling mentally healthy heading into their first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

T.J. Oshie is trying to return from a concussion on Thursday as a number of his teammates return to the ice in preparation for Game 1 in St. Louis. 

"It's just a day-to-day thing," Oshie told reporters on Tuesday. "If I can, if medically it's okay and I'm not gonna hurt myself worse or my team worse, then I'll be in."

Head coach Ken Hitchcock said the remainder of his injured players, including David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko, are all expected to return at some point during the series against Chicago. 

Tarasenko returned to the ice Tuesday after having a hand cast taken off and is waiting to be medically cleared to return to the action. 

"The good news for us is it's an injury that he's gonna be conditioned for," head coach Ken Hitckcock said of Tarasenko. "He's not ahead of schedule at all. He's gonna be able to jump in and play right away. He's had harder work than anyone on the team, he's done all the extra stuff."

[MORE: Blackhawks prepared for physical series with Blues]

Backes, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund did not take part in Tuesday's optional skate, but all three are expected to return to the ice in the upcoming days. Once all injured players are back, Hitchcock expects to see drastically different results from his team as they enter the postseason coming off six straight losses.

"Any debris from the end of the season on any team that's left here is gone," he said. "I think everybody knows the fact if we get some health back, we're a lot better team than the one that finished the year. That's just a reality check that we had to deal with."

Much of the chatter surrounding the series is about the Blues' physical style of play and how the Blackhawks may deal with that. But Hitchcock said that there are no perceived weaknesses when you're facing the defending champions.

"If we think we're gonna go out on a seek-and-destroy mission like both teams did with LA and us last year, this team will just laugh at you," he said. "They've had people running at them for five years now and they know how to deal with it. So from our standpoint, we just have to play the game, play the game the right way and hope for good results. But going out and thinking we're gonna intimidate the Chicago Blackhawks is nuts."