|After Experiencing Bitter Playoff Sweep, Backes And The Blues Are Aiming High In 2013|
|By Sean Hartnett – DavidBackes.com contributor|
There was a time when David Backes and his Blues teammates were viewed as a promising young group with a high ceiling of potential and much to prove. Things began to click for the Blues last season when David became the 20th captain in team history.
For much of the 2011-12 season, the Blues led the Western Conference standings. St. Louis finished with 109 points – just shy of winning the Presidents' Trophy. The Blues had finally come of age and established themselves as a major Western Conference force.
Being swept by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions can be painful, but David looks back at last season as a vital learning experience and knowledge gained.
"It's one of those things where you have to walk before you can run," he said. "We were able to win a series and gain that knowledge. I think we got a little too high on ourselves, rather than picking it up another notch in the second round."
There were times when David couldn't bear to watch the playoffs knowing the Blues weren't a part of it. That wasn't the case in 2012, as the Blues took a massive step forward by defeating the talented San Jose Sharks in five games. Backes earned his first taste of playoff success in his sixth NHL season and wants to build on the experience.
"I've had it both ways, there were times when I'm so disgusted that I don't watch a second of playoff hockey," he remembered.
"With us making it through one round, and then the team we lost to was still going, I wanted to see if what I was gathering from my learning experiences playing them was actual, and if other teams were going through it. Watching playoff hockey helps you do that a little bit. It makes you become a little more committed this year."
Should the Blues meet the Kings again in the 2013 NHL playoffs, David thinks St. Louis will be prepared.
"The sweep came and away we went, but I think if we learn something from that experience so that it's not in vain, then we're better on the other side," he stated. "If we take it as bad luck or just throw it to the side and try the same things again, shame on us for squandering an opportunity to stare a Stanley Cup champion in the face and not learn from that defeat."
Backes has big goals in his sights for a Blues team that has expects to not be part of the playoff conversation – but instead show fans in St. Louis and across the NHL they've become a true Western Conference heavyweight.
"We're now in a situation in St. Louis where we're expecting to make the playoffs, rather than hoping to make the playoffs," he said "When we get there, we're hoping it's not just a new experience. We've got bigger goals than just getting our feet wet."
At 28, Backes is the prime of his career and the face of a deeply talented Blues team that is ready to prove their time has come.