Blues simply trying to survive Game 5

Saturday, May 11, 2002

DETROIT -- Many seem to believe the Detroit-St. Louis series will be over today.

The Blues enter Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals and will be without captain Chris Pronger, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Thursday in Game 4.

While most expect the Red Wings to take another step toward their quest for the Stanley Cup, they are not quite ready to count on sleeping in on Sunday.

"They lost their captain, but I'm sure they want to prove that they can win the series without him," Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek said. "Nothing is over at all."

St. Louis' Keith Tkachuk agrees.

"We just have to force a game back here, a Game 6," Tkachuk said. "We're not going to quit. We've got a lot of good guys in this dressing room. We're going to go down swinging. We're going to throw everything at them."

That's exactly what the Red Wings are thinking.

"We know well enough that the hardest game to win is the fourth game," Detroit's Luc Robitaille said. "It's not going to be an easy game. They're not going to pack it in and stop playing. It's not over.

"We have enough experience to know that you can never take things for granted. The minute you do, that's when somebody passes you by. They're going to play good. It's going to be their best game, so it has to be our best game."

Although the Red Wings have won three games, in Games 2 and 4 they had to hold off late charges by St. Louis to win.

Hasek said the Blues looked down emotionally for about 20 minutes after Pronger skated off the ice, but they didn't stay that way for long.

"In the third period they didn't quit, they came hard and they almost tied the game," Hasek said. "I think they sent a message. I still think even without (Pronger), they are a very dangerous team."

The Blues said playing without Pronger, one of the NHL's best defenseman, will make a tough game even more challenging.

"We feel what we have is a very big task," St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're looking at just going there and playing the game of our lives and trying to stay alive."

To stay on the ice and off the golf course, Ray Ferraro said the Blues have to stay confident while trying not to look too far ahead at their obstacles.

"We are capable of going into Detroit and winning a game," Ferraro said after practice Friday in St. Louis. "But, if we try to win three games tomorrow, we're going to be in trouble."

Hasek said he's rooting for a win and the rest that would come with it.

"I think it's important because this has been a more physical series than the last one," he said. "It would be nice to win the game and have rest for four or five days before the next round. However, I don't even want to think about the next round until we win another game."

Detroit's Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Chris Chelios did not practice on Friday, but are expected to play in Game 5. Igor Larionov, who was forced out of Game 3 with a leg injury and missed Game 4, said he will not be able to play Saturday.

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