Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time is not for Blues to put up or shut up at Scottrade Center

9-15-5 record on home ice worst in NHL,
big reason team is on outside looking in

ST. LOUIS -- Shoulda woulda coulda are three basic words that come to mind when the Blues think about what they've done at Scottrade Center this season.

While the Blues are in a fierce fight for one of the eight playoff berths the Western Conference has to offer, there are many areas that can be pointed at why the Blues (25-23-9) are on the outside looking in right now.

But the main culprit, one that stands out all by itself, is the inability to make their home ice a hard place to play.

As the Blues get a rematch with the Chicago Blackhawks (37-15-5) today at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center, the Blues sit dead-last in home ice record.

Their 9-15-5 record -- including a home win in Sweden to start the season -- is the worst in the league. That's 23 points out of a possible 58 points up for grabs on home ice. And with the Blues being seven points out of a playoff position heading into tonight's game, just adding on three more wins and being a .500 club at home puts them right in the thick of it.

"I don't really know ... we've tried to think of everything," Blues goalie Chris Mason said. "It's just not coming. That's the difference between where we're sitting and where we should be."

The Blues finish up their pre-Olympic stretch with four of their five remaining games on home ice. And with 25 games remaining, 13 of those are on home ice.

"You're going to have to win two out of three consistently to get back in the playoff race," forward David Backes said. "We're committed to that effort and the process to get there. The rest will take care of itself."

After a crucial 3-2 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago Wednesday, the Blues followed it up with a 4-2 home loss to the Western Conference's top team in San Jose Thursday.

And even though they failed to pick up two points in that game, the best recipe for moving on to the next game: park it.

"Unfortunately we didn't get the two points (Thursday), but it's over and done with," Backes said. "We've got to learn, improve our game (and) improve our process of how we're going to play. We're back against a good Chicago team on Saturday, we're in our barn and we need to establish the way we're going to play at home, outwork teams and execute the game plan that's put in front of us."

The Blues, who sit in 13th place in the Western Conference, are cognizant of where they are and where they need to get to in order to duplicate last season's feat of making the conference's elite eight.

"We kind of know where the bar is," coach Davis Payne said. "We have to climb a little harder, a little faster or jump a little higher in order to get there.

"Saturday is going to be a tough battle. There's no easy ones."

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