Monday, December 14, 2015

Stringing wins in succession a trouble spot for Blues

After loss Sunday, it marked sixth time in a row St. Louis hasn't 
been able to follow up a win with a win; team feel goals will come 

ST. LOUIS -- When looking at Ken Hitchcock's teams of the past in St. Louis, the Blues have always been able to maintain a level of consistency for the majority of the time.

There have been losing streaks that all teams have a tough time avoiding, but the Blues never seem to allow those skids to linger, and wins typically are followed up in succession. It's a prime example of why the Blues are typically at the top of the standings

But for the Blues (17-10-4), who dropped a 3-1 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday after one of the more impressive wins (3-0) against the NHL-leading Dallas Stars on Saturday, it marked the sixth time in succession that they've failed to follow up a win with another win.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) is being pursued by the Avs' 
Blake Comeau on Sunday. Colorado won the game 3-1.

The last time the Blues won games in succession? You have to go back five weeks when they topped the Nashville Predators on Nov. 7 and followed it up with a win at the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 10. That victory was the end of a three-game winning streak.

Since then, it's either been win-loss-loss, win-loss, win-overtime loss, win-overtime loss, win-loss-overtime loss-loss, win-loss, win-loss.

"Yeah, it's tough," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "We're one win, one loss, one win, one loss. It's hard when we feel like we're gaining momentum, we play such a great game against Dallas and we come back (Sunday) and we lose to a divisional opponent. There's a lot of games coming for us, so we feel like these games especially are ones that we're letting slip away. We really have to make sure that we're taking care of our job, and getting wins out of them."

And what's even more disappointing is that the roller coaster ride is coming with roughly 25 percent of their home games being played here in the month of December (11), where the Blues are 2-4-0 with five to play; they're only 9-6-2 on home ice this season.

"As of right now where it stands, yes (it's disappointing). We still have a lot of games left on this home (stretch)," Shattenkirk said. "We have to get it back in our favor. We haven't played our best hockey here at home and there's no dancing around that. ... Obviously with a lot of games it helps us kind of move onto the next game, but we have to make sure that we're focusing on the positive things and moving on."

It would be easy for the Blues to say just stay the course, but if they did that, there would be many more ups and downs. And as difficult as it is to make the playoffs in the National Hockey League, prolonged ups and downs are not good enough these days.

"I think we've just got to try and stay positive, keep battling, be a little hungrier, want the puck, go to the net more, all those cliches," center Paul Stastny said. "You're creating chances and sometimes they're just not going in. It's frustrating, but that's how it is throughout the course of the season. Early on in the season, there were games where we weren't doing much and we were finding ways to win 4-, 5-1. We were opportunistic and our goalie was playing great. We're not getting many of those bounces here and there. We've just got to find a way to create our own luck."

It's easy to simply say score more goals and they'll win more games. Of course that's a defining result, but a culmination of good starts and proper execution will lead to more goals.

However, it can't be ignored that the Blues, who feel like they're getting great chances as evidenced by the 43 shots on goal Sunday, have scored three or fewer goals in 16 of the past 17 games, including scoring fewer than three 10 times. They are 3-6-1 in those games.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Ryan Reaves (75) moves the puck past Colorado defenseman
Francois Beauchemin during play Sunday at Scottrade Center.

"Yeah, and I think as a team, it seems every night we have two lines creating a lot, two other lines the next night," Stastny said. "If we can get all four lines going like we did the other night, that's when we really play to our capabilities. Every line doesn't have to score, but every line has to chip in, do well on faceoffs, create chances. That way you can kind of just roll lines and kind of get that snowball effect and keep going. That's when we're most effective." 

The Blues, who were off Monday, will break off the prolonged stretch of home games with a road tilt in Winnipeg on Tuesday before returning to play two more at Scottrade Center.

"It's good to get away," Shattenkirk said. "I think a hostile environment like that, it makes us really be ready off the hop and not sit back. We know how well they play at home. I think they're kind of streaking right now as well. Divisional opponent, we know how hard those games are against Winnipeg and I think it's going to be a good test for us."

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