Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blues consistently finding ways to accrue points

Twelve-game franchise-tying point streak has 
been done in different fashion with common ending result 

ST. LOUIS -- Over the past 12 games, in which they've earned at least a point in each and 23 of a possible 24, the one consistent commonality in amassing those points is that the Blues (33-13-4) continue to garner points.

The Blues, who are 11-0-1 and tied a franchise record (also established in 2000) with points in 12 straight games, have been winning and accruing points in different ways.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (left) is among the many players and
in different ways that the team is finding ways to accumulate points.

When the streak started, it was a 20-goal binge in three games (two against San Jose); then a wild shootout victory against Carolina in which goalie Brian Elliott was pulled after allowing three first-period goals and Jake Allen came on to get the win, including go 3-for-3 stopping shootout attempts; a shutdown performance against Edmonton in which the Blues allowed a season-low 15 shots; the one blemish against Detroit that the Blues lost in the waning seconds of overtime but overcame a 2-0 third-period deficit to gain at least a point; more stellar defensive play and strong goaltending in a shutout win against Toronto and victory against Colorado to go into the All-Star break; then back-to-back shootout wins against Nashville and the Hurricanes, done so without two key forwards (Jori Lehtera and Patrik Berglund) that left the Predators game with injuries; then a 4-3 victory at Washington that saw the Blues lose arguably their most consistent defenseman (All-Star Kevin Shattenkirk) and captain David Backes to a game-misconduct, and then there was Tuesday.

The Blues were stymied and smothered by a talented Tampa Bay Lightning, held to a season-low 18 shots. Even though they were down 1-0 much of the game, it seemed local bot Ben Bishop and the Lightning were safe. As coach Ken Hitchcock said afterwards, "We had nothing."

Well, the team in front of Elliott may not have had anything, but they did have their goalie. And there comes a time when the skaters in front of the goalie don't have their best and he's called on to steal two points.

"He was really good," Tarasenko said of Elliott. "This is not surprising us. We're really lucky to have a goalie like this on our team."

The Blues, who have won six in a row and play at league-worst Buffalo (15-33-5) on Thursday before playing at Columbus on Friday, have won six in a row.

And they don't care what fashion they win, as long as they continue to accumulate points.

"Different ways, different players," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It's not always going to be pretty. Obviously you want it to be, but you're never going to play perfect every game. 

"For the most part here over the last 12 games, it's been pretty good. There's spurts where we obviously can get better, but everyone's coming to work here every day and everyone has a good feeling going into every game. When you win hockey games like this, you want to work for the guy next to you."

And that is the attitude the 20 guys that are playing feel every day. Now, there has been an added onus placed on recently-recalled Ty Rattie, veteran Joakim Lindstrom, who was a healthy scratch in recent weeks and saw limited time and Dmitrij Jaskin has been thrust into a top-nine role since his recent recall.

On the blue line, Chris Butler was back in the lineup to replace Shattenkirk, who will have abdominal surgery. Butler had an assist on Jaden Schwartz's OT winner, and Ian Cole, who how takes on more responsibility.

"The way we're playing, the way guys are coming through for each other and the belief that we can get it done at the end of the game, that's getting us through," Elliott said.

Of course the Blues are going to be reminded what type of run they're on, with media consistently reminding them, but between the walls of the locker room, the focus is on the here and now.

"We've got 12-game point streak," Tarasenko asked a reporter when reminded. "I don't think somebody worry about it. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Goalie Brian Elliott (1) helped the Blues keep their 12-game point streak
alive with a stellar  performance against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

"Last year we were in first place for a long time and lost in first playoff round. After that experience, I don't think we worry about it right now. We all focus about ... (trying) to do better."

Said Schwartz: "The All-Star break kind of gets in the way. You kind of forget what was before that. I knew we were on a bit of a stretch but didn't know it was exactly that."

The Blues are among the top teams in the Western Conference race again; that's no surprise. But in order to stay up there, as competitive as the teams on top with them are, they'll have to keep up with this frantic pace. 

"It's not always going to be pretty, (and) you've heard me say it before but you find ways to win," Pietrangelo said. "Good hockey clubs do that. The games where you don't think or most people don't think you're going to win, we always have the belief that we're going to win. (Tuesday) was a prime example of that."

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