NHL: Blues aim to keep improving on homestand vs. Blackhawks
The St. Louis Blues have struggled to build a home-ice advantage this season while going 10-10-2 at Enterprise Center.
They will try to improve on that Saturday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks to continue their seven-game homestand.
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The Blues are 3-2 during the current home stretch. They split two games with the Calgary Flames, lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning, then defeated the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators.
Blues coach Craig Berube saw Thursday’s 5-2 victory over the Predators as one of the team’s best overall efforts of the season.
“It was pretty good, pretty good game all around from everybody,” Berube said. “I thought we got contributions from everybody. I thought everybody played a pretty solid game tonight, which is good. We need that; we need everybody to do their job out there and contribute in some form.”
The Blues have regained injured defenseman Nick Leddy and they hope to get winger Vladimir Tarasenko back from his hand injury soon. Center Ryan O’Reilly and defenseman Torey Krug are also on the injured list.
But St. Louis has earned points in 14 of its last 19 games, going 11-5-3, to remain within range of a playoff berth. Defeating the Predators, a Central Division rival also playing catch-up in the postseason race, had extra value.
“We played a full 60 tonight,” said Jordan Kyrou, who leads the Blues with 43 points in 43 games. “I thought we were always attacking, we were playing quick. We were doing a good job of possessing the puck in the (offensive) zone, getting shots to the net, crashing the net. We did a great job tonight.”
The Blues are catching the Blackhawks while they are playing their best hockey of the season. Chicago has won five of its last six games.
“We’re just connected right now, playing some pretty good hockey together,” Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones said after the team’s 4-1 victory at Philadelphia on Thursday. “I think we’re all on the same page when it comes to how we have to play at the moment and everyone’s buying in, so it’s been good.”
Jones has two goals and five assists in his last three games. Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews has two goals and four assists during his four-game point streak.
After allowing four goals on five shots during a Jan. 14 loss to the Seattle Kraken, Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek won his last two starts while stopping 67 of 71 shots.
“I think I’ve been a little more aggressive when we are in our zone,” Mrazek said. “I’m out of the blue (paint), I can see the puck well and guys are boxing the players well so I can be more aggressive. I think it’s working right now.”
The Blues won their first two games against the Blackhawks this season, 5-2 on Nov. 16 and 3-1 on Dec. 29. Arvid Soderblom took the loss in goal for Chicago in the first game and Alex Stalock took the defeat in the latter game.
Stalock landed back in concussion protocol after a collision in practice Monday, with Mrazek in line to start the game.
–Field Level Media
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