Friday, December 1, 2017


Prosser claimed off waivers by Wild; Blues' 5-on-5 play far 
outweighing special teams; Berglund debut nets mixed results

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues knew the possibility existed when the exposed veteran defenseman Nate Prosser.

Prosser, who signed with the Blues for the second time in his career, the first coming in 2014, had to feel like he was re-enacting the movie 'Groundhog Day' when Prosser was once again claimed off waivers on Thursday by the team he originally departed to sign with the Blues, the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild claimed Prosser, who signed a two-year, two way contract ($650,000 NHL/$400,000 AHL) on Aug. 3, after Prosser only played in one of 24 games with the Blues.

"I'm not too surprised," Blues coach Mike Yeo said Thursday after an optional skate at Scottrade Center. "That's one thing with a guy like that, it's quite often teams that know him, that are familiar with him and know what a quality person it is, what kind of character he has ... so obviously (the Wild) had that in sight."

Prosser could make his third Wild debut against, ironically, the Blues on Saturday afternoon. Minnesota was in desperate need of a right-handed defenseman after placing struggling Kyle Quincey on waivers themselves (he went unclaimed) and using a multitude of younger kids back there.

Prosser had spent eight previous seasons with the Wild and played in 282 games.

When the Wild claimed Prosser the first time he had signed with the Blues and was put on waivers was Oct. 2, 2014, and he was able to fly back with them to Minnesota because subsequently, Minnesota played the Blues in a preseason game that night.

Prosser's only appearance in a Blues uniform was Oct. 25 against the Calgary Flames. He played 15 minutes, 23 seconds.

Prosser provided veteran depth along with that of Carl Gunnarsson, who's been a healthy scratch the past four games after the return of Jay Bouwmeester. Now it's down to Gunnarsson and those the Blues have in the American Hockey League with San Antonio and/or Chicago.

"To be perfectly blunt, that's what (Prosser) was for us," Yeo said. "He was depth and he was depth while 'Bouw' was out and then obviously we got 'Bouw' back. 

"We've got seven defensemen here right now that can't factor into the lineup every night and all seven of them are quality NHL defensemen and obviously we've got some guys in the minors that we know can come up and play. I know (Jordan) Schmaltz has been playing well, been hearing real good things about his game, so hopefully he can continue that, too."

* 5 on 5 vs. special teams disparity -- When looking at the Blues' 17-7-1 record, which continues to stand as the best in the Western Conference with 35 points, some might look at the team's ineffectiveness on the penalty kill (27th in the league) and power play (22nd).

What the Blues lack in special teams, which was on display in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, has been made up with stellar even-strength play, particularly 5-on-5, where the Blues are third in the NHL in goals for (56) and goals against (38), a plus-18 margin.

"I know that there's ebbs and flows," Yeo said. "There's times where it looked like our penalty killing was really coming along and then this last little stretch has been a bad stretch here, so we've got to get back on top of it. I know that we'll correct it."

The Blues looked at video on Thursday and will look to make the fixes, whether it be changing up personnel or simply executing better with the groups they've utilized, especially after the penalty kill allowed two goals in the game Wednesday, the second straight time it's happened.

"I think that that's something that we have to look at here and even the change of personnel might be certain guys getting on more that haven't been playing there and certain guys maybe getting on less," Yeo said. "The other part, too, is we can switch up some combinations and the pairings that we're using in certain situations."

The power play, which was 0-for-4 Wednesday after going 3-for-8 the previous game against the Wild, had 13 shots on goal. Some good looks, especially from Jaden Schwartz, who had six shots in the game Wednesday, but in the end, had nothing to show for it.

"We had a few looks, but not the same results as the Minnesota game," Yeo said. "We're two games into kind of the new look that we've had. We had three goals the first game, none the last game. I'd like to see it a little bit more before we react."

* Berglund's debut a mixed review -- Yeo said all along that when Patrik Berglund returned, the big center iceman wasn't going to jump in two feet first and be able to pick up where he left off during a career-high 23-goal season last year.

Berglund played 14:28 and was 50 percent (6-for-12) on faceoffs but took two minor penalties that led to both Anaheim goals. However, when he was on the ice, he helped kill the remaining three Ducks power-plays.

Yeo was on the bench chatting with the 29-year-old Berglund Thursday, reinforcing that the timing will come and to build on what the coach thought was a strong third period.

"For sure, but I think that there was some stuff to look at in that game and for some real positives for the way that he played in the third period," Yeo said. "I think that he recognized and felt good about the progress that he made in the game and so that's a good step and lets look to build on that."

* Optional practice -- Those that skated Thursday for the Blues before they play back-to-back games tonight to wrap up a five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings and Saturday in Minnesota included Berglund, Sammy Blais, Scottie Upshall, Oskar Sundqvist, Chris Thorburn, Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Magnus Paajarvi, Vince Dunn, Gunnarsson, and Carter Hutton.

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