ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues are headed to Anaheim on Wednesday for a makeup game from February when the game was postponed following Jay Bouwmeester’s cardiac episode during the first period.
“It’s a game, we gotta make it up,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said. “It’s kind of a weird situation, but we gotta go out there. So, we need the points. You know, so we gotta focus on the game. That’s the bottom line.”
The Blues are coming off a rather surprising loss to the Florida Panthers who sit at fourth place in the Atlantic division with 78 points. The Panthers are two points back from a second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“A lot of these teams are fighting for playoff spots,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. “We’re gonna get a lot of teams' best games right now. For us, we want to make sure we’re at our best game going into playoffs, too. So yeah, they’re all gonna be competitive from here on out. That’s what we expect.”
It was the second of three games in which Blues forwards didn’t score.
“We just didn’t execute on some plays,” Berube said. “Offensively, ya know, it’s tough to win when you only score one goal.”
It definitely is tough. Blues forwards only put up 12 shots against Florida. Parayko put up the Blues' only goal.
The Blues were riding an eight-game win streak heading into New Jersey, which came to an end as the Blues dropped the game to an unlikely opponent.
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The Devils sit at last place in the Metropolitan Division with 68 points. Blues forward Jaden Schwartz was the lone goal scorer for St. Louis is the 3-1 loss.
After a day of rest, the Blues returned to the ice in Chicago with fire as they defeated the Blackhawks 2-0 to sweep the regular season series.
This time, it was two defensemen who netted goals for St. Louis. Robert Bortuzzo scored his second of the season and Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo tallied number 14.
“Our forwards definitely could probably get, have to get more opportunities than they’re getting,” Berube said. “I think, like I said, maybe they’re looking to pass too much and not shoot enough. But, we do use our (defensemen) a lot. They do shoot the puck a lot every game. It’s not nothing unusual with them getting that many shots tonight. But, we do need our forwards to start generating more offense for sure.”
It’s become a trend of truly not knowing what to expect offensively each night.
During the team's eight-game winning streak, the Blues were finding ways to win, but they weren’t necessarily playing their style of hockey that won them a Stanley Cup.
After the New Jersey loss, Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said he felt the Blues hadn’t been playing their style of hockey for a handful of games at that point and that most of their wins were the result of “lucky bounces.”
Teams can’t win consistently or rely on lucky bounces when players simply aren’t shooting the puck in general.
“We had three of our top four scorers tonight not with a shot on net,” Berube said.
David Perron, Brayden Schenn, and Schwartz were three of the four scorers who didn’t get a single shot on net. The fourth top scorer, Ryan O’Reilly, got one shot on net through all 60 minutes of regulation.
St. Louis will play the Anaheim Ducks on the west coast for their fourth game in eight days after back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday.
“You know, it’s a tough schedule for sure, but that’s no excuse,” Berube said. “We’ve played back-to-backs and had a good record all year.”
Win or lose, this team isn’t making excuses. The Blues know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, and they’re prepared to put the work in down the stretch.
The goal is to remain at first in the Central Division. The Blues still lead the Western Conference with 92 points. The Colorado Avalanche are right behind them with 90 points, and one game in hand.
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