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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:29 am 
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Could a 2-1 win at Minnesota on Tuesday night be the turning point the St. Louis Blues so desperately need?

That answer will start to take shape as the Blues host Anaheim on Friday night. But St. Louis is certainly riding high after a hard-fought win over the Central Division leader.

"That was our biggest win of the year, no question," Blues goalie Jake Allen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The Winter Classic is a different story; that's a game you'll never forget. But right now for the playoffs, the position we're in, it's the biggest win."

That position is tenuous at best, mostly due to the Blues' Jekyll and Hyde act this season.

St. Louis went 1-4 to end January, which culminated in the firing of Ken Hitchcock. Then it went 7-1 to begin new coach Mike Yeo's tenure. That was followed by a five-game losing streak that was snapped in Colorado on Sunday.

The Blues are one point ahead of Los Angeles for the final wild-card spot and four points behind Nashville for third place in the Central Division. St. Louis has one game in hand on Los Angeles and two on Nashville.

Tuesday's game against the Wild was the beginning of a six-game stretch for the Blues against teams that hold playoff positions.

"Don't give up on us," Yeo told NHL.com. "We're still building. We're still trying to find our way. It's a new group of leadership, it's a new group of players. Although, as an organization, we've done great things the last several years, it's this group that's trying to carve out our own identity and our own culture, and tonight was a good step."

The Blues also made news off the ice on Tuesday, announcing that they had signed prospect Tage Thompson to an entry-level deal. Thompson, 19, was the Blues' first-round pick (26th overall) last June.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound forward tallied 33 goals and 64 points in 70 games during his two-year career at the University of Connecticut and also won a gold medal with Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships in January.

Anaheim enters the contest riding high after a 1-0 victory at Chicago on Thursday night.

Goalie Jonathan Bernier made 43 saves against the Blackhawks to earn his 100th career victory. The win moved the Ducks into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division, past Edmonton. Anaheim has its first two-game winning streak since Jan. 17-19.

"I felt really good and wanted to have a full 60 minutes," Bernier told NHL.com. "It's a fun building to play in. We needed those two points."

The Ducks have won three out of their last four games. This is the first of two games within five days against St. Louis as the Ducks will host the Blues on Wednesday.

"We know we can play better as a group, but the important thing is finding a way to win," Bernier told NHL.com. "We need to turn the page because we have a quick turnaround tomorrow in St. Louis. We have to make sure we're ready."
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Blues • The Blues play Anaheim twice in six days, with a return meeting coming Wednesday in California. In their one meeting this season, the Blues won 2-1 in Anaheim on Jan. 15 with Patrik Berglund scoring both goals and Carter Hutton in goal. … The Blues are 8-2-2 against the Ducks in St. Louis in the past seven seasons. … It’s the start of back-to-back games for the Blues, who have swept both games the past three times they’ve played games on consecutive days.

Ducks • The Ducks had alternated wins and losses for 12 consecutive games before winning their second in a row, 1-0 Thursday night at Chicago, the first of back-to-backs for them. Anaheim is in a battle for second in the Pacific Division with Edmonton, though both have to watch for fast-closing Calgary. … Ryan Getzlaf is tied for eighth in the league in assists with 40. … G John Gibson, whose GAA of 2.24 is eighth in the league, is traveling with the team but won’t play as he recovers from an injury.

Injuries • Blues – F Robby Fabbri (knee) is out. Ducks – G John Gibson (lower body), F Nick Ritchie (upper body), D Clayton Stoner (abdomen) and D Simon Despres (concussion) are out.
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The Blues begin a critical back-to-back home set on Friday as the Anaheim Ducks come to town. Following Friday's game, the Blues will host the New York Islanders, who are revitalized under new head coach and former Blue Doug Weight. The Blues and Ducks have been on similar paths recently, each going 5-5-0 over their last 10 games. St. Louis will carry some confidence into Friday's game as they knocked-off Western Conference-leading Minnesota on Tuesday. The Blues clipped the Ducks 2-1 in overtime in the first meeting of the season back on Jan. 15. The series will wrap-up over the next six nights as the Blues will visit the Ducks again on March 15. Patrik Berglund led the Blues to victory in their first clash, scoring both Blues goals, including the winner in overtime. Overall, the Blues are 3-0-1 over their last four games against the Ducks, while they've won three in a row and nine of the last 12 at Scottrade Center.

What to Watch

The Blues need to snap out of a home funk. They have lost two straight at home and seven of the last nine. Their struggles haven't been a season long trend, in fact, during the 2016 portion of this season, they ranked seventh overall with a 14-3-4 home record. The penalty killing could be the key. From the beginning of the season to Dec. 31, the Blues allowed just 10 power-play goals on 76 attempts against. Overall this season, the club is 24-7-5 when keeping the opposition's power play scoreless.

Milestones

David Perron - 3 shy of 100 goals as a Blue / 8 shy of 500 career PIM
Paul Stastny - 2 shy of 200 games as a Blue
Kyle Brodziak - 4 shy of 400 career PIM
Carl Gunnarsson - 9 shy of 100 career assists
Jori Lehtera - 3 shy of 100 career points
Alexander Steen - 5 shy of 300 points as a Blue / 6 shy of 400 career PIM / 10 shy of 300 PIM as a Blue
Jaden Schwartz - 3 shy of 200 career points
Jay Bouwmeester - 8 shy of 100 PIM as a Blue
Robert Bortuzzo - 8 shy of 200 career games

Quick Hits

Alex Pietrangelo collected his 228th career assist on Tuesday, tying Adam Oates for 12th on the all-time franchise list.
Jake Allen is 2-1-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average and a .965 save-percentage (one shutout) over his last three starts.
Under Mike Yeo, the Blues have accrued a plus-11 goal differential, which shares fifth overall since Feb. 2.
Vladimir Tarasenko logged his 22nd even-strength goal of the season on Tuesday. He sits just four behind Auston Matthews for the league lead in that category


This day in history:
1920 Joe Malone scores six goals for the Quebec Bulldogs in a 10-4 victory against the Ottawa Senators, becoming the first NHL player to score six or more goals in a game twice during his career
1955 The Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine makes its NHL debut
1976 Garry Unger broke NHL record for most consecutive games with his 631st as Blues face Maple Leafs
1978 The Boston Bruins acquire defenseman Dennis O'Brien on waivers from the Cleveland Barons, making him the first NHL player to be with four teams in the same season (Norh Stars, Rockies, Barons, and Bruins)
1985 Doug Wickenheiser scores his 2nd and final career Hat trick (1st for Blues) in 6-2 Win over Red Wings
1992 Al Arbour earns his 700th win as an NHL coach when the Islanders defeat the Flyers 5-2 joining Scotty Bowman as the only coaches in League history to win 700 games
2002 Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks becomes first goaltender to score a power-play goal

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:13 am 
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So we continue with the non-production, not taking faceoffs, Lehtera joke of a line.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:22 am 
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We all predicted a bloodbath in Minnesota, and managed to come out on top. So who the hell knows what this team will do tonight?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:38 am 
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Besides score 2 goals or less at EV strength again, you mean? That should be a given.

It's not like the 3rd line is going to generate any offense putting all the pressure on the top 2 lines again.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:25 pm 
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theohall wrote:



So we continue with the non-production, not taking faceoffs, Lehtera joke of a line.


Schwartz-Stastny-Tarasenko : I just drooled.
Steen-Berglund-Perron : Very Sexy line
Upshall-Brodziak-Reaves: Rolling Thunder line

Jaskin-Lehtera-Paajarvi :..... Just vomited in my mouth.

What about ditching the Vomit Line and roll Sanford - Barbashev - Jaskin instead?

Anyway, I expect us to beat up on the Ducks.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:12 pm 
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I agree with you guys on Barbashev over Lehtera. I'm gonna play devil's advocate though. While Barbashev has looked promising at times, he also only has 3 points in 14 games. Obviously as he plays more, you'd expect him to mature and improve on that pace. But, from a keeping things in perspective standpoint, I don't think the impact of Barbashev over Lehtera (today) is quite as huge as it's being made out to be.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:41 pm 
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Most of the time, Barbashev replaced Brodziak on the 4th line. Not a lot of points to be had there. If he was given Lehtera's opportunities, it'd be tough not to out produce him. Jori has 19 points in 60 games, most of that time playing with you know who.

It's worth a try.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:53 pm 
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That's a really good point. I still think it's relevant that he only has 3 points in 14 games, but, yeah, that would likely go up a bunch in a top 9 role.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:13 pm 
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I agree 3 in 14 is relevant, but we're talking about Lehtera here. Lo and behold, he crosschecks Perry into his own goalie, directly resulting in a Ducks goal. Then him and his line provide little to no resistance on Anaheim's 2nd goal.

He is absolutely putrid. Hell, I'd rather them pull Federko from his intermission perch and skate him out there.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:21 pm 
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Beautiful play by Schwartz deking his man to move in close and flipping it to Reaves for the goal!!! 2-2 tie!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:19 pm 
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The Blues would have been better off just getting a 2-minute power play than having Reaves on the penalty shot, although he gave it a very good effort.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:45 pm 
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Blues take the lead!!!! Bortuzzo to Edmundson!!!! 4-3 with just 19 seconds left!!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:48 pm 
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Blues win!!!! Blues Win!!! Great effort against a good team!

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:52 pm 
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Cheers to Bortuzzo, who made a move and carried that puck in. Could have easily just dumped it, but was looking to make a play. And he did.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:15 am 
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Hooray!!! 4 even strength goals!!! Blues now 2-12 since January when trailing at any point in a game. Yes, this is only the 2nd time the Blues overcame even a 1 goal deficit to win in 2017. So that's a positive.

Concerns - all 4 were scored with at least 2 of 91-26-17 on the ice. This team has to find some scoring depth beyond the top line. Lehtera line was absolutely horrid in the 1st. While Panger was talking about the Blues needing to defend breakouts better, he failed to mention the only line struggling with defending them was the Lehtera line. Continuing to role out that disaster that is Lehtera isn't helping. No matter what coach speak comes out of Yeo, the Blues aren't winning because Lehtera is in the lineup. They are winning in spite of his lack of production, lack of contribution in the faceoff circle, and horrible defensive play. Centers who aren't taking faceoffs shouldn't even be playing.

The Lehtera line did play better in the 2nd and 3rd period. He is still being protected by the coach from faceoffs. He only took 6 the entire game and 2 of those were on the power play. So you know how few that is - Stastny 24, Berglund 15, Brodziak 14 And Lehtera actually won 4 of 6 while Brodziak was getting his butt handed to him in the circle. Coach Yeo still wouldn't give Lehtera more faceoffs, though. Hmmmm.....

That too many men penalty in the 3rd can't happen. There was no pressure on the Blues D with clear possession of the puck and Perron just jumped on way early - all he had to do was wait 1 more second for Tarasenko to get off the ice.

When trailing, the Blues defense needs to move their damn feet and quit relying on the stretch pass. Those early 1st and 3rd period goals by the Blues best line rescued this team from themselves. This is a pattern that happens whenever the Blues get down a goal in a game. The D stop skating and the forwards all wait for passes at the center red line and beyond. If the D isn't being pressured, it's fine for the forwards to wait beyond C as long as the D starts skating instead of relying on easily defended 80+ foot passes. The problem is the Blues D standing still while looking for that pass. Every Blues defenseman, except (yes, I'm typing this) Bouwmeester, did this at some point tonight and they are fortunate it didn't cost them. When they Blues are ahead or tied in a game, there are usually at least 2 forwards on their own side of center for breakouts which also helps defensively in case of turnovers. That help isn't there when the passes are broken up and 3/5 of skater are beyond center ice as happens when the Blues trail in games.

Hope Parayko is ok since we aren't hearing anything significant from the Blues other than "held out for precautionary reasons and questionable for Islanders game"

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