HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues hit the road the past two games and in fact, got back to trending their game in the right direction after a bit of a lull.
And in taking three of a possible four points after a 2-1 overtime loss at Minnesota Saturday and a 4-3 win at Montreal on Tuesday, the Blues' main objective is to try and translate that into home success.
The Blues (18-8-2), who will play four of the next five at Scottrade Center beginning with Thursday's Central Division battle with the Dallas Stars (7 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), started off the season the right way playing here by going 5-0-0 and outscoring the opposition 22-9.
But in the nine games since, the Blues are 4-5-0 and have been outscored 28-27.
"Let's quit calling it home ice advantage. You look around the league, and I think we've proved that on the road trip and we've proven this year is every game is so important to teams right now. Home ice doesn't mean as much because teams can't afford to come in here and just say, 'I don't really like laying it on the line tonight.' Every game is important and we're going to see that tomorrow from Dallas. Obviously we love having the crowd and if we're playing our game, yeah, it could be an advantage for us, but if the other team is dominating the puck possession time and generating momentum off of that, then it doesn't really mean much. It's up to us to make sure that we give our fans a real good reason to cheer in the game, but more importantly, it's up to us to make sure that we understand we have to be competitive and ready to execute the right way."
The Blues certainly don't apply to one of those visiting teams that bow down to the proverbial home ice advantage; not with their strong 9-3-2 start away from home.
"I think going in there, we know we have to be good to win a hockey game, and I think sometimes when we're at home, we're just kind of assuming that it's going to happen and next thing you know, we're chasing games because we're not ready to defend the right way or compete the right way at the start of a game," Yeo said. "When you start chasing games, it's tough."
It would be a good time for the Blues to recapture that early-season home ice fire since the Central Division is well on its way to being a gauntlet this season once again with the Blues (38 points), Nashville (39 points), Winnipeg (38 points), Stars (33 points), Chicago and Minnesota (29 points) and Colorado (26 points) all at .500 or better in the standings so far.
"This is what you come into the season expecting," Yeo said with a wide grin. "It's been a little tougher (this season), but it's always close to being like this. We know we've got a real strong division. Not a lot of breathing room."
* Dunn fighting to get back in lineup -- Rookie defenseman Vince Dunn, who had played in the first 26 games this season, has found himself on the outside looking in the past two games and is likely to sit a third straight game when the Blues host the Stars.
With Yeo not being one to make changes unless absolutely necessary after victories or at least after the Blues have shown they've been good the past two games, Dunn, who said he was caught off-guard when scratched Saturday in Minnesota, will have to work himself back among the top six, much like Carl Gunnarsson did a few weeks ago when Jay Bouwmeester returned and gave the Blues seven healthy and able-bodied defensemen.
"I don't really know if it's even a reset button," said Dunn, who has six points (two goals, four assists) in 26 games. "It's not anything in my power. It's taking it how it is and staying positive with the guys in the room. I've just got to keep doing the things I'm doing. Obviously I'm here for a reason, so I can't get down on myself. Just kind of got to learn more and more each day.
"All I can do is worry about myself, worry about the team game. Whenever I'm in, whenever I'm out, I've just got to come to the rink with the same attitude."
Yeo, who felt Dunn's game slipped a bit in a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles last Friday, has been down this road before with Gunnarsson, and now he's working with the 21-year-old 2015 second-round draft pick and keeping his focus moving forward.
"We had a conversation and really he opened the door by kind of having a game that wasn't up to the level that he was playing at," Yeo said. "I hate to say it, but this is a numbers game and that's what we talk about all the time in this business when you've got a healthy group. Obviously we've got good depth here on the backend. You look at the seven guys and the way they're all performing right now. When you've lost a couple games in a row, you have to make a change and that's what we did. I really liked the way we played and the way we looked in Minnesota, so we went back with that last game and I thought we had another strong one last night too.
"Just work hard and keep a good attitude and be ready for your opportunity. It's basically the same message we gave 'Gunny' when he was out. ... This is not a matter of us not having confidence in the player. This is a matter of us having confidence in a whole bunch of players and us having to take out a player, a good player and make those tough decisions."
* Happy homecoming -- Spending three days as close to home was plenty satisfying for Quebec native Sammy Blais.
Blais, who hails from Montmagny, Quebec, which is northeast of Quebec City and a three-hour drive from Montreal, had 100 family and friends at the game on Tuesday.
The Blues arrived in Montreal on Saturday and spent three nights there, giving the 21-year-old Blais, a 2014 sixth-round pick, plenty of time to spend with his parents, brother, sister and other acquaintances. He had dinner with his uncle Sunday.
"It was very nice," said Blais, who forked up the bill for tickets to the game Tuesday. "We got there Saturday and on Sunday, I went with my parents and brother and sister all day. It was very nice and they were there for the game, too. It was a great moment. Maybe like 100 people from my hometown were there. Family members, maybe 40, but people and like friends and stuff, maybe like 100, so it was nice."
Blais, who grew up a Canadiens fan and to a degree still is, was in the starting lineup for the Blues Tuesday, understands the history of the franchise and sat in the stands at Bell Centre.
"I was a fan of Canadiens growing up, went and watched a couple games when I was young," Blais said. "The atmosphere is incredible. ... It was nice to be on the ice there last night. It was a great game and a win, so I can't ask for anything better."
* Pressed into duty -- Goalie Carter Hutton said a backup goalie has to prepare for anything, including enter a game even when it's known they won't be starting on a particular day.
So when Hutton was pressed into action in the second period Tuesday after starter Jake Allen's skate blade broke and needed repairs, Hutton was pressed into duty cold off the bench and held down the fort for the entire 3 minutes, 27 seconds.
"I've lost my blade already once this year in practice," Hutton said. "Sometimes the bolts are fine, so you can just switch them quick, but obviously he had to go and make a little bit of a change. Just went in and shut the door.
"I thought he was hurt at the start. I just saw him getting helped, then I saw the steels and I thought he'd be fine. I just thought they'd switch it but his skate was broke, so he gave me the wave over and I jumped in there, played hockey."
Hutton was so good, he didn't even have to make a save. The Canadiens had no shots on goal while he was in goal.
"Sometimes teams are scared of you," Hutton joked.
* World junior preliminary rosters announced -- Three Blues prospects will represent Canada and one is expected to be named to Russia's final roster in the near future as preparations are underway for the IIHF World Junior Championships, which will be played out Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo.
Forwards Jordan Kyrou (2016 second-round pick), Robert Thomas (2017 first-round pick) and Tanner Kaspick (2016 fourth-round pick) were all named to Canada's preliminary roster Wednesday and forward Klim Kostin (2017 first-round pick) wasn't initially named to Russia's roster on Tuesday, but the Russian Ice Hockey Federation said players playing outside of Russia will be named at a later date.
Kostin is currently playing for the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.
The Blues are not represented on USA's roster, but four St. Louisans will be attending, including goalie Joseph Woll (Toronto Maple Leafs), forward Trent Frederic (Boston Bruins), forward Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators) and Boston University's Brady Tkachuk, son of former Blue Keith Tkachuk and younger brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.