ST. LOUIS — Steve Ott has been here before, part of a playoff team coming off a late regular-season slump.
Ott and fellow St. Louis Blues forward Brenden Morrow were part of a 2007-08 Dallas Stars squad that went 1-8-2 in March of that season, plummeting them from a home-ice spot to fifth in the West. They went all the way to the Western Conference Finals that year.
The moral of the story: the late regular-season results have no relation to the playoff ones.
“The clichés of starting at zero is a straight fact,” he said. “Obviously both teams had a great regular season, but everything starts at scratch in the playoffs. There are unlikely heroes every single night, guys who raise their level of play. It’s that magical time of year that everybody wants to be a part of.”
The Blues didn’t end the regular season well, but they’ve erased that and are focused on this first-round series vs. the Chicago Blackhawks, which begins tonight at Scottrade Center. It was a forgettable late March/early April for the Blues; with injuries mounting, they lost six straight and the Central Division title. Sure, they would’ve liked it to end better. It didn’t, and they’re over it.
“Everyone’s stats are wiped clear,” Morrow said. “We’re not the best power play in the league, we’re not the worst. It’s a fresh start. We’d rather have had some momentum, confidence from the way the season started, but that’s not the hand we were dealt. You move on, you stay positive, you get healthy and have a fresh start.”
The Blues will have a healthier postseason start than they did at the regular-season finish. All but Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie are back in the lineup tonight. As for those dismal late-season thoughts, those are gone, too.
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“We’ve put in a lot of work the last couple of days to flush those last couple weeks out, get rid of those thoughts,” Morrow said. “It’s a fresh start. We played a great 75 games and we’ll draw back on those thoughts.”
The slate is wiped clean for both teams. For the Blues, it’s erasing the negative of the end and looking to build some postseason positives, fast.
“We won 52 games this year; I don’t think we’ve forgotten what that feels like,” Blues captain David Backes said. “We started to run out of steam, bodies at the end of the year. That’s not the case after some great rest, some great work by the training staff. We’ll have all hands on deck and we’ll play with tons of energy. We’ve got a group that’s refocused and ready to go.”