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Kariya out, Sundin a game-time decision

Tuesday, 21.04.2009 / 2:43 PM / Features
By Larry Wigge
ST. LOUIS – Paul Kariya went through another full workout with the Blues at the morning skate Tuesday and he's almost ready.

Said Kariya, "It's a no-go. But I'm getting closer every day."

He was asked if he could play if the series goes to Game 5. "YES," said Kariya.

On the Vancouver side, Mats Sundin, who missed Sunday's Game 3 with a groin problem, went through the entire morning skate before heading to the team's locker room, where he would be icing up the groin area for another 20 minutes.

Bottom line: He's a game-time decision.

Getting messages across -- At two ends of the hallway at the Scottrade Center, there were a couple of very different and emotional messages being sent to the Blues and Vancouver Canucks as they prepare for Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals on Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET, CBC).

It wasn't just "Sweep!" on the one side and "There will be a tomorrow," on the other. The message Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has been sending since his team won Game 3, 3-2, won't go down in history as competition for "Win one for the Gipper," but is nonetheless resounding in its importance to the Canucks.

Vigneault said in looking at the history of the teams that have won the Stanley Cup, champions get it done ... now. Said Vigneault, "Good teams get it done ... and they get it done quickly."

On the St. Louis side, when Blues forwards David Backes and Brad Boyes were reminded that only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders have rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win a series in NHL history, Backes didn't hesitate to say that it ain’t over until it's over.

"They probably told that to the Boston Red Sox before they won the World Series, too (in 2004 after erasing a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in the ALCS)," said Backes.

"When you're talking about your dreams, isn't that just as great as trying to beat the odds of making it to the NHL?"

Experience does matter -- Daniel Sedin can empathize with the young St. Louis Blues a little in thinking about his first venture into the intensity of a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

"If you look at two years ago, Henrik and I were so fired up every game," Daniel said of his brother and he getting so emotionally involved in just being there that they wore themselves out. "We wanted so badly to do good. Look at St. Louis: they ran around the first period and it took so much out of them, they couldn't play for 60 minutes. That was our problem last playoffs.

"Now, we feel if things don't work out in the first period, they'll work out in the second and third. Even if we're down a goal going into the third, we believe everything will work out if we just keep playing our way."

And 2007 wasn't the Sedins first trip to the playoffs, either. It was fifth trip to the playoffs, but by 2007 there weren't playing second fiddle to Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison anymore. And they had learned about the emotion, the intensity and the sacrifice that has to be made in the playoffs by that time.

From a St. Louis standpoint, they got to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 partly because of the energy and skill of the young line of Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and David Perron. Perron's one assist is the only point that threesome has managed in the first three games.

They are just three of a group of 11 Blues players making their first NHL playoff appearance.

Pedal to the metal: Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Johnson said it's no secret that his team knows the Blues will not roll over and play dead in Game 4. Plus, it's no cinch that the Canucks will sweep a playoff series for the first time in team history.

"We know they're going to come out with a ton of energy," Johnson said. "We've got to keep our foot on the gas. We know there's no quit in that team. We want to impose our will on them by initiating our game on them in the first five minutes."

Quickly now -- St. Louis coach Andy Murray says the secret to his team's success is initiating, being proactive with hard work.

"The goal for us is to spend the first 20 seconds of every shift in the other team's zone, so that they're so tired they can't produce any offense," Murray said.

Something to watch in Game 4.




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