NHL: Blues chasing defensive adjustments vs. Blackhawks
The St. Louis Blues will continue adjusting to life without defenseman Torey Krug when they host the reeling Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night.
The Blues came back from their holiday break Tuesday without Krug, who landed on long-term injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He is expected to miss six weeks.
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“Obviously a very big part of our team, our back end,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s a tough one, but I think it’s just on us to step up. I think we’ve done a good job of guys coming in throughout the year and just stepping in when needed.
“Points are crucial obviously for our team, and it’s just one of those things where we’ve got to focus on coming to the rink and preparing for each game no matter who is in the lineup.”
Krug will be missed on the power play, where he has quarterbacked the team’s top unit.
“He’s one step ahead all the time with where the puck’s going,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I think that’s the biggest thing; he moves it quick, he knows where it’s going, knows where it should go. That’s important.”
The Blues recalled Tyler Tucker from the AHL to replace Krug on the roster. Berube plugged Calle Rosen into the lineup Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs and moved Parayko onto the second power-play unit.
The Blues opened their three-game homestand by falling to the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. St. Louis goaltender Jordan Binnington was under siege for much of the game.
“Offensively they gave us a lot of issues there and took momentum too much at times,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “It’s tough. We have to defend better against them. We kind of gave them a little too much and relied on (Binnington) to keep us in it. We scored some big goals, we kind of stuck with it there.
“It’s a good point, but the position we’re in right now, how tight this race is going to be, we need two points. It’s disappointing that way, but some things to build off of.”
The rebuilding Blackhawks enter on the heels of a 3-0 loss Tuesday to the Carolina Hurricanes. They got a career-high 46 saves from goaltender Petr Mrazek, but were shut out for the third time in their last 10 games.
“It’s a little frustrating not to get enough offense to give Petr some scoring support he needs,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “I think we’ve got to be cleaner. Most of those shots were in the first period. I don’t know if there’s much we could have done better than just be a little sharper with our breakouts with the puck in the first period. I think that was pretty much the game right there.”
Chicago is 2-16-1 in its last 19 games while the Blues are 4-1-3 in their last eight.
The Blues won the previous meeting between these teams 5-2 at Chicago on Nov. 16 with O’Reilly, Jordan Kyrou and Ivan Barbashev each scoring a goal and earning an assist. Andreas Athanasiou scored both Blackhawks goals in that game.
–Field Level Media
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