Blues ready for big game Saturday: Bortuzzo could play

No player, especially a veteran, likes to admit to such a notion of that ilk, but it's been a tough go for Berglund, who is in his 10th NHL season but has just 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 40 games this season.

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Patrik Berglund called his benching Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings "the right call."

No player, especially a veteran, likes to admit to such a notion of that ilk, but it's been a tough go for Berglund, who is in his 10th NHL season but has just 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 40 games this season.

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So Berglund, 29, who was scratched in a game for the first time since March 12, 2015, was the first skater on the ice Friday for practice at the Ice Zone ready to reclaim a job he admits he lost.

"Just be positive, work harder. I think it was the right call," Berglund said. "All you can do is work harder and be ready when you get the chance next time. All that matters now is to get points and win games.

"It was a really good feeling to see the boys really fight through that game and get us two very important points."

It seemed like a matter of time before something would shake up, especially following the manner in which the Blues lost their seventh straight Tuesday night, 8-3 at Minnesota.

Blues coach Mike Yeo was forthcoming who he felt played the right way and by not naming certain players, those were the ones he felt did not and had not been. Berglund was among those.

"Not really," Berglund said when asked if he was surprised. "It hasn't been good enough. Something had to happen. It's what it is."

It was a conversation that Yeo felt he had to have, and whether it be a veteran skater or a young player getting his feet wet in the NHL, the conversation is no different.

"No, I think it's pretty similar to be honest with you," Yeo said. "Quite often, you have younger players, they may not know exactly what their best looks like. 'Bergy' does at this point. He's got enough in the bank that he knows what it is that he has to get back to. It's not fun scratching players like that, but that's what we needed to do and now we needed to move forward.

"... He's owned up to it, and I think that's the first step. For us, it's just what's the end game now. We can sit here and dwell about the first part of the season, what's gone on up to this point. For me, it's a matter of what do we do from here on out. We'll put some video together, I think he had a good practice today, he's got to do everything he can in practice, in the gym to build his confidence back up and we can help him with some of the video and then we're just going to have to put it into a game. For me, in our conversation, it's 'lets do the things, let's see the the things that make you a successful player.' Obviously using that big body of his, getting moving with his feet (and) with the puck on his stick. That's when he's on top of his game, that's when he's playing his best. That's going to be his focus and that's what we're going to help him with."

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Berglund, who has just 22 assists in his past 164 regular-season games, knows what has to be done.

"A little bit of everything," he said. "We kind of try to do too much now, so you can get caught in between a lot of situations. You want to help the team and do a lot of things. Sometimes you try almost too hard and it goes the other way. It's working in quicksand almost. Got to work hard in practice, work hard in the gym and try to build up confidence and when you get the next chance, go out and do your job."

* Big game in 'Big D' -- With 74 points, the Blues (35-26-4) will play the Dallas Stars (36-23-5, 77 points) for the fifth and final time during the regular season and plenty on the line.

Plenty in the fact that the Blues want to build off of finally winning a game, and plenty in the fact that they don't play again until Thursday while teams around them in the standings can make moves up or remain locked in neutral.

"It's going to be a big one," center Kyle Brodziak said. "We know what the standings look like. I think guys are going to be excited for it. Just another opportunity to play a hockey game and hopefully we'll play it well.

"In here, I think everyone tries to stay in the moment as much as we can. It's tough when you're not going to play for four or five days after, but we know that if we get a win, then it will be a good feeling around here for the next couple days."

The Blues open a four-game road trip, one that will take them to California beginning Thursday in San Jose, March 10 at Los Angeles and March 12 at Anaheim.

"Big game," Yeo said. "We've got a big road trip and every game on this trip is big. Always the first game of a trip's always a big one. They're playing well. We've had tight games against them every game in their building, in our building. They've been intense. I think special teams is going to be a real important part of the game tomorrow and we'll have to be ready to go."

The Blues don't want to have to sit on another loss for five days. They are 2-2-0 against the Stars this season, with each team winning on home ice.

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"They're always close games," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "We know what to expect obviously. They have a good team over there and they play a good structure. It's always a team that's tough to play against, so it's a good challenge for us and we have to come with a full 60 and a good effort to give ourselves a good chance.

"This is obviously a big game for us based on the fact that we're going to have four days off I believe in the schedule. It's obviously easier to rest on a win than a loss to give ourselves a better chance in the standings. When we come back, we can kind of hit it running and just go from there."

After winning the first two meetings at home, the Blues have dropped a pair of tough games at Dallas, 4-2 on Dec. 29 and most recently, 2-1 on Feb. 16.

"Obviously it's a goal here or there," Yeo said. "One staying out of our net, one going in theirs. Last game, I thought we played really well, but we didn't finish, we didn't capitalize on chances and we probably didn't create enough scoring chances. We're going to have to do a little bit better job of that. They defended really well, really hard against us and then they scored at the key moment."

Going into Friday, the Blues were tied with the Ducks for the second wildcard out of the Western Conference.

* Lighter numbers at practice, Bortuzzo close -- The Blues held a full skate on Friday, but missing from action were forwards Nikita Soshnikov, Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Thorburn. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who has been a regular skipping practice for weeks, also did not skate.

"Had a few guys under the weather here today," Yeo said. "Hopefully everyone's better for tomorrow, keep guys off as a precaution and the one guy, 'Sobe,' he was actually having a baby today."

Sobotka and his wife were welcoming the couple's second child.

As for Bortuzzo, who has missed the past five games with a left knee injury sustained in that 2-1 loss to the Stars, he was a full participant in practice Friday and could come off injured reserve and play Saturday.

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"I haven't had a chance to talk with him, but when I talked to him yesterday, he's certainly close right now," Yeo said. "Ultimately, we needed this practice to see where he's at. I would say he's a potential for tomorrow, but I'll sit down with him later here and we'll determine if he's ready for tomorrow or not."

* Brodziak's big minutes; Hutton could start against Stars -- Brodziak wasn't aware that his 19 minutes 14 seconds were the most in a regular-season game since Jan. 11, 2014, but he was glad to pitch in.

"Going into the game, you don't really know what to expect," Brodziak said. "To play that much was fun being involved the whole game. To get the win, it was fun. ... It was just different situations of the game. [Yeo] was trusting to throw us out there and that was nice."

Yeo would never admit it, but it's expected that Carter Hutton will get the start in goal against the Stars.

Hutton is 16-7-2 and he leads the NHL with a 1.99 goals-against average and .935 save percentage after making 35 saves in a 2-1 win against the Red Wings on Wednesday.

"He's playing well," Yeo said of Hutton. "He's played a really good game."

Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko has a five-game point streak against the Stars, and Jaden Schwartz has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in his last 10 regular-season games against the Stars.