Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Win at Boston just what Blues needed

A night after coughing up three-goal lead, team comes back with one of 
better efforts of season against one of hotter teams heading into Christmas break

ST. LOUIS -- A younger team may have withered away. This is no young team.

This is a veteran-laden squad that understood that it frittered away two points playing hot potato with the puck and in the end, it cost it a game in which it led 3-0.

So naturally, the looming question for the Blues, who went into Boston playing one of the hottest teams in the NHL in the Bruins, was how would they respond 24 hours later.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Robby Fabbri (15), who scored in his second consecutive game
Tuesday at Boston, battles for a puck with the Bruins' Colin Miller.

A 2-0 victory in one of the most complete 60-minute games of the season put an exclamation point on the pre-Christmas schedule for the Blues (21-11-4).

Makes a big difference compared to last season, when the Blues had arguably one of their worst clunkers of the season in a 5-0 loss at the Colorado Avalanche.

The Blues got great goaltending from Jake Allen (32 saves for his league-tying fifth shutout), timely goals (Vladimir Tarasenko with his league-tying 22nd and Robby Fabbri) and they got structured play in three zones.

Robert Bortuzzo was brought in on defense and was a factor; Paajarvi continues to improve and the Blues got solid play up and down the lineup.

"It's a good statement, yeah," said left wing Magnus Paajarvi, who set up Tarasenko for the eventual game-winner.

Indeed it was.

The game had all the earmarks of getting blown out of the barn after the Blues lost 4-3 at Philadelphia the previous night. A team chalk-full of younger players may have been mentally shaken.

Not this veteran-laden group, who have a good penchant for parking the previous game (good or bad), moving on and getting refocused.

"We talked about that after (Monday) night," Tarasenko said.

The Blues will never get the opportunity to get those lost points against the Flyers back. That's part of the rigors of an 82-game season that bring forth all sorts of ups and downs. Perhaps the best-case scenario was playing the next night.

It didn't give the Blues much time to dwell on losing a game they easily could have won.

"Yeah, especially with this little break we've got here," Fabbri said. "To go in on a positive note with a win, obviously it wasn't the way we wanted to play the night before, but to bounce back shows our character."

The Blues not only went all-in, they went all-in with 100 percent effort and attention to detail from start to finish.

"That's what it is. We're going to have to play this way ... quite frankly, this is the way we're going to have to play every night," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're not a team that can afford to be 85 percent. Some teams can get away with that. We're 100 in to play the right way and that's the small margin, especially with the teams that are coming up post-Christmas. We're going to have to be 100 percent all the way in, and 100 percent means for 60 minutes; not 45, not 50. That's what was impressive (Tuesday) and disappointing (Monday) because the best we've played on the road was the first period (Monday) and probably the worst period we've played is the second period. And then to come back with a game like (Tuesday) just shows the character that we've got on the team when we dig in.

"... Right the ship because we played 60 minutes. I think we knew we had it in us. We just had to draw it out. It's a perfect time to bring it out."

Now the Blues, along with the rest of the league, get a three-day break to allow the body and mind to rest. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jordan Caron (left) made his Blues debut at Boston on Tuesday. Caron
was reassigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL on Wednesday. 

"I think we all need it," Allen said. "Whenever you can get a couple days off just to get away from the rink for a couple days and let the body heal ... we don't start off with an easy schedule. I think we play four games in six days. Right back at it."

"A couple of days off, you want to make sure you have a break, like I said resting your mind," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It gives you a little bit of energy going into the 26th."

"When you win, you feel like you want to play the next day, but it'll do everybody good," Hitchcock said. "We'll certainly get our attention on the game on the 26th. It'll be a heck of a game."

* NOTE -- The Blues reassigned forward Jordan Caron to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.

Caron made his Blues debut against the Bruins and played fourth-line left wing with Dmitrij Jaskin at center and Ryan Reaves at right wing.

Caron had two hits in 9 minutes, 22 seconds of action.

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