David Backes, Brian Elliott indicate they've got what it takes in the crunch

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 1:05 AM

LOUIS -- Presently the St. Louis Blues can just play hockey. In winning one-0 in Game 1 against the rival Chicago Blackhawks and doing it the way they did it, the Blues wiped out so many of the concerns and questions that'd have started to pile on had it gone another way.

David Backes, Brian Elliott indicate they've got what it takes in the crunch

ST. LOUIS -- Presently the St. Louis Blues can just play hockey.

In winning one-0 in Game one against the rival Chicago Blackhawks and doing it the way they did it, the Blues wiped out so many of the concerns and questions that'd have started to pile on had it gone another way.

The Blues had to get advantage of playing the Blackhawks without the suspended Duncan Keith. They did precisely that. A loss would've been viewed as a major squandered opportunity by a team with too many in its postseason history.

That concern is gone.

Fairly or unfairly, the production of the captains was inevitably going to be compared. Blues Capt David Backes had one goal in his previous ten playoff games, production that looks worse when Chicago'south Jonathan Toews seems to discover another gear to lift his team into the following round, frequently eventually lifting a Stanley Cup.

After his winning goal, one that came on a sharp angle shot off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, the pressure on Backes has been released. A least momentarily.

In a game in which his teammates too frequently made one additional pass, Backes did what you necessity to do in overtime -- send the puck toward the net. It led to the first winning playoff goal of his career.

"I grab it, toss it in front, look it hit skate and then you look it disappear," Backes said after the game. "You declare a fast prayer and it was answered when I saw it go behind him and into the net."

And then he went into full-on captain mode.

"We'll have a tiny fun, we'll appreciate this for another twenty-five minutes until midnight and we'll have to refocus," Backes said. "We've been up 1-0 against this team before, they don't stop. They don't quit. We've to have the same mentality."

Then there'south Blues goalie Brian Elliott.

These Blues are built to win a Stanley Cup. They've got the ingredients up and down the lineup. There'south just one dazzling question and that'south whether they'll obtain the goaltending. Same as it always has been.

If Elliott flops in Game 1, even if he lets in one single horrible goal in overtime, the speculation kicks in immediately. When's Jake Allen going to play? Do the Blues have faith in Elliott? Is he capable of replicating his regular-season success in the playoffs?

Elliott was grand in Game 1.

He finished with thirty-five saves, but it wasn't only the saves he made that showed he'south prepared for this stage.

He was directing traffic and making plays with the puck. He showed his athleticism in ways you can't do as a goalie if you're timid or playing scared.

As the game went on, it became more obvious he was settling in and making the kinds of plays he needs to create to be successful.

"Els was phenomenal," Backes said. "He'south been all year whenever he'south been called upon. Tonight was number different. Enormous saves when we needed it. Stoppages when we were below duress. A couple cheeky puck plays where he'south emotional it up and we're able to exit a lot easier... He kept us in there long sufficient for us to find one."

In doing so, Elliott earned his first shutout in the playoffs and the first for the Blues since Chris Osgood got one in two thousand-third, in case you were wondering how long playoff goaltending has been an issue in St. Louis.

With one tiny comment, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock acknowledged that maybe there was a problem with Elliott in the past when it came to playing in the playoffs. One that'south presently gone. Again, for the moment.

"He'south comfortable in this setting now," Hitchcock said. "You look his athleticism arrive out now."

Now.

The Blues don't necessity us to tell them that one win doesn't imply a thing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Particularly when it comes on opening night. Particularly when it comes against this Blackhawks team, one that needs more than a single overtime one-goal loss to be rattled in the least.

But there was pressure on St. Louis. Pressure not to blow home-ice advantage right off the hop. Pressure to capitalize on Keith'south absence. Pressure for the Capt to step up in a big moment.

That all happened.

They get twenty-five minutes to appreciate it and then it'south back at it.

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