ST. LOUIS -- At least two of the players on the St. Louis Blues claim they did not know the team has gone 15-5-1 to begin this season.
The Blues will carry that record, the best in the Western Conference, into Tuesday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers -- and even coach Mike Yeo has tried to downplay the team's spot atop the standings.
"I try not to pay attention to it either," Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You know, we talk about staying in the process through the game and it's the same way for the season. If we just keep showing up to the rink and making sure that we're prepared to play and playing good hockey, then we'll like where we're at at the end of the year."
Defenseman Joel Edmundson and center Paul Stastny told the newspaper after the team's 4-3 overtime win Saturday night in Vancouver they were not aware of the team's record through the first quarter of the season.
"We just go out and play," Edmundson said. "It doesn't really matter to us. We worry about one day at a time. Worry about that game. Standings will take care of themselves."
The Blues went 2-1-0 on their swing to western Canada, including a 4-1 win against the Oilers in Edmonton last Thursday. The Oilers also lost 6-3 on Saturday in Dallas and will be playing their second game on a five-game trip.
The early-season success for the Blues has come despite the absence of some key players, including defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who has not played because of a broken ankle suffered in the preseason. He was activated from injured reserve on Monday and is expected to make his season debut on Tuesday night.
Forward Patrik Berglund, who underwent shoulder surgery in the summer, also is practicing and could be back in the lineup in a couple weeks.
The Oilers are at the other end of the standings from the Blues with just four regulation wins and 16 points through 20 games, which ranks next to last in the Western Confernce.
The team's biggest problem has been letting in too many goals -- 64, the third most in the conference -- and their minus-14 goal differential is the second worst in the conference.
"The goalies have to be better, the defense, the forwards, the coaches have to be better," coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Sun. "None of us have lived up to where we need to be and that's why we're where we are in the standings. "I'm not going to single out the goaltender. It's team-wide."
Goalie Cam Talbot, who has started 18 of the first 20 games, knows his performance has to be better for the Oilers to be successful.
"Maybe I don't have to steal games, but I have to give us a chance to win," Talbot told the Sun. "The difference this year and last is my consistency. I've had some good games but others I want back and I have to eliminate those ones."
About that bold, underlined part: note to Todd McLellan - quit putting your top players on the ice while at home against the top players on the other team and you might have more success. He had last change and kept putting the McDavid line out against the SST line. When they played Pittsburgh recently, he kept putting the McDavid line out vs the Crosby line. While this kind of stuff plays great to the media and some fans, it is not what coaches should be doing to win games. And the idiotic Canadian mediots aren't talking about the elephant in the room for the Oilers - who are their true top tier defenseman? Instead, the Canadian mediots keep talking about the Oilers trying to acquire forward help. Seriously???
Oilers D - Larsson, Klefbom, Russell, Nurse, Gryba, Benning, and Auvitu. The bottom three would still be playing in the AHL for most teams. Klefbom is supposed to be one of their top 2 and he's -10.
On that lining up the right players, in case anyone is paying attention, Yeo keeps starting the Blues 2nd line when at home if the other team puts out their top line. Steen, Stastny, and Sobotka are all very solid defensively.