Saturday was Day 4 of a five-day break between games for the Blues. Other than the nine days off between games the Blues had with their bye week and the All-Star break, it’s the most time they’ve had off since training camp began in September.
So the players are eager to get going again.
“It’s nice to get some rest, that’s big for the body,” said defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, “but we’ve been going every second day for a long time here. We’ll take the break, but you can see the excitement on the ice. We took two days off the ice, you come back revitalized and at the end of the day, everyone loves playing this game and we want to be out there playing.”
“It’s one of those things,” said forward Brayden Schenn. “You’re going to bed or you’re around the house and you’re thinking about it. It comes to the point you just want to get the games going already. Get in the heat of the series.”
The Blues had an optional practice on Saturday before flying to Boston, and most everyone took part. The only players not on the ice were goalie Jordan Binnington, defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Colton Parayko and forwards Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Ivan Barbashev.
Defenseman Vince Dunn skated with the team for the first time since taking a puck to the face in the first period of Game 3 of the conference final with San Jose. Dunn skated with a full visor and a clear plastic football-style mouth guard below that.
Neither Dunn nor coach Craig Berube spoke to reporters on Saturday (it’s unclear how well Dunn can talk at the moment), so there was no update on his status, but he was traveling with the team to Boston. Dunn was believed to have concussion symptoms, along with whatever damage caused by the puck hitting him. Dunn made a mad scramble to the bench after being hit and was helped down the hallway.
If you look at a clip of the Blues’ bench celebrating after Pat Maroon’s overtime goal in Game 7 against Dallas, you’ll see everyone going over the boards to join in, but one player doesn’t quite make it.
Forward Sammy Blais caught his leg on the boards as he went over and landed up going splat on the ice while everyone went after Maroon.
“Ask Schenner why I fell,” Blais said Saturday. “Schenner pushed me. That’s why I fell. He just pushed me because he was excited.”
Blais said he cut his lip when he went down, but at least no one stepped on him in the confusion.
“I’m going to remember that celebration all my life,” Blais said. “Everyone back home was laughing about it. Well, it’s funny, right? I didn’t really enjoy it, but it’s all right. Game 7, OT winner, you’ve got to be happy.”
The Blues have winnowed down their Black Aces, the minor-leaguers who work with the team in the playoffs and are on standby in case of emergency. Jordan Nolan, Chris Butler and Mitch Reinke are the only ones still around who will make the trip to Boston. … Blues defensive prospect Niko Mikkola, playing for Finland at the world championships in Slovakia, advanced to the final with a 1-0 win over Russia. Finland will face Canada in the final on Sunday. … Meanwhile, the business of hockey rolls on. Per Capfriendly.com, the Blues have until June 1 to sign two players they drafted in 2017, defensemen Trenton Bourque (sixth round) and David Noel (fifth round), or lose their rights to them. Bourque had four goals and eight assists in 57 games for Owen Sound of the OHL and Noel had 13 goals and 14 assists in 37 games for Val d’Or in the QMJHL. … The junior season for Alexei Toropchenko, the Blues fourth-round pick in 2017, ended on Friday when Guelph lost in the Memorial Cup semifinals by Rouyn-Noranda, 6-4. Toropchenko had three goals and three assists in four games.