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Blues haven't played their best hockey yet but continue to find ways to win

“And they know how to hang in there, and then when the time comes to it, they push and they go win games."
Credit: AP
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) celebrates with center Brayden Schenn (10) after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues now sit at second place in the National Hockey League with 52 points. They only trail the Washington Capitals who have yet to slow down this year with 57 points.

Washington hasn’t necessarily had it easy, but they haven’t faced the same amount of adversity that the Blues have.

If the Capitals lost Alexander Ovechkin for the majority of the season, who knows if they’d be sitting in the same position they’re in now.

That’s the difference.

The Blues can now count more players on two hands who haven’t suffered an injury as opposed to those who have.

The foundation for discussions in sports is always health. Health was a big factor in what contributed to the Blues' success in the playoffs last year.

Health is not a factor in what’s helping them in the first half of the season this year.

Regardless of who’s in the lineup, this team is finding ways to get the job done.

Nearly every player who’s been pulled up from the AHL to help this year has scored or contributed in a large way during a game to pick up wins.

It’s not only given younger players the opportunity to shine, but it’s also given Blues defensemen a reason to contribute offensively as well.

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo now has nine goals this year after scoring two against San Jose. He has 26 points, which is two more than Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, who is the highest-paid defenseman in the league.

Justin Faulk got off to a slow start but is finally starting to get into a groove. He and Pietrangelo paired together combined for more than 20 shot attempts in a single game.

“Look we always talk about how our (defense) needs to create offense, and that’s just how we play,” said Pietrangelo. “And we’re better like that. You look at our (defense) and maybe we’re not scoring, but me and Faulker had what, 20 shot attempts last game? It was just a matter of time. So, when we’re creating offense like that we’re tough to handle.”

After Thursday’s outdoor practice, Blues head coach Craig Berube didn’t have a solidified answer on which goaltender would start in Saturday night’s game.

Allen ended up getting the start, which could’ve been a nightmare at this point last season. Instead, he stood on his head and now has a .931 SV%.

“They definitely know how to win,” said Blues head coach Craig Berube. “It’s character and leadership though is a big part of it for sure. And they know how to hang in there, and then when the time comes to it they push and they go win games. I think we’ve had 13 come-from-behind victories, or 12 this year. So that’s a lot. Like I said, we’re not always going to have our best stuff…and it’s important you find ways to win those games.”

Perhaps that’s the most intriguing part of the Blues five-game winning streak.

This team hasn’t played its best hockey yet. Quite frankly, they have only played a full 60 minutes at a solid strength level in two or three games.

It’s very clear in most of these games that there’s a lot of room for improvement. For example, the Blues found ways to win even after struggling on the power play. At one point the team was 0 for their last 13 power plays.

Luckily, there were other scoring opportunities at even strength that they were able to capitalize on.

A three-game losing streak may weigh some teams down in the league, but not the Blues. They can snap out of a slump and fire back harder than ever.

The talent is there, and more importantly, the character and the identity of the team is there. It's a culture of winning regardless of adversity.

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