The Blues were on the ice again Monday after three games in three days, and although not everyone played in all three games, there was some weariness on the ice at Scottrade Center.
"I'm feeling it, I can tell you that, so I bet you the players are, too," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "We monitor our heart rates and try to keep tabs on energy levels on players and the readings we got today would indicate that the players were a little tired, so we kept practice a little bit shorter."
The practices, split into two groups, were each done in under an hour. One was a group mainly comprised of Sunday night's game group that won in Pittsburgh, 4-1. It was a group of 18 that are all likely make the opening night roster. The second group was comprised of the remaining 19 players that are vying for the five remaining spots.
Yeo got some good and some bad out of the three games this weekend, wins in Washington Friday and Pittsburgh Sunday sandwiched around a loss to Dallas Saturday.
"I think we played two very good games and one very poor game," Yeo said. "Obviously, the big part that we're also focusing on is sort of identifying who's making a real case to be on our team. We're getting close to that process. We've got three games remaining here."
The group that played Sunday night was an indicator that the Blues, who open at Pittsburgh on Oct. 4, are gearing towards that regular season opener.
"Last night was a real good indication that we're getting close," Yeo said. "We addressed some things. We had a little chat with the leadership group yesterday. I feel like the work ethic has been outstanding in training camp the focus has been outstanding in training camp. The play without the puck, I felt really had come along and then after we played the Dallas game, we talked about building some better habits with the puck and I felt that we did a much better job of that last night. Some of the offense that we created, the shots that we created, the scoring chances and the zone time I think were a real good indication of that."
The Blues are down to three preseason games left and the group that plays in Columbus on Tuesday will be comprised of many of the younger players vying for those last few jobs.
"We're going to take a bit of a younger lineup tomorrow, which means more opportunity," Yeo said. "What that also means is younger players are going to be playing with younger players as opposed to playing with a veteran player that they might be in regular season action. For me, if I'm a young player or anybody trying out for the team, I don't care. An opportunity is an opportunity and a chance to prove yourself. I would hope that they look at it the same way."
Call it a final audition.
"I don't want to tell them that," Yeo said. "I don't want them going into the game thinking ... I guess that's part of it. They have to deal with the pressure and they have to understand that. I don't want them going into the game thinking that one mistake could be the difference. I want them to play with confidence, I want them to go out there and show us what they can do and not play with fear."
Yeo did say that no players would be cut on Monday.