Friday, March 16, 2018

A day later, Blues know they squandered good opportunity

Despite outplaying Avalanche, 4-1 loss puts Blues in tough spot fighting for 
wildcard, have to move on with big weekend of games with meaningful points

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The mood around the Blues on Friday was a somber one.

Especially a day after feeling like they dominated a hockey game, yet came out on the wrong end on the scoreboard and on the wrong side of two valuable points.

For the Blues, who lost a big, big game 4-1 to the Colorado Avalanche despite a decided advantage in territorial possession, a decided edge in shots on goal (45-23), a decided edge in shot attempts (82-42) and a decided edge in Grade A scoring chances that was more than a 2-1 edge and still came out on the wrong end is not good news for a team hanging on in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's easy to sit here and say, 'Oh, poor us, we've had a lot of these games and there goes another one,'" Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "But feeling sorry for ourselves, that's not going to do anything right now. I'm not going to get caught up in that. It's frustrating, it's disappointing. Quite frankly, I think we're all a little bit pissed off that we didn't get the win last night, but those feelings, they're not going to do us any good. It's up to me and the coaches, players to get re-energized, get refocused and make sure we're ready to go tomorrow."

And as far as those scoring chances are concerned?

"I know that we had more than we scored the seven in," Yeo said, referring to the Blues' 7-2 win at Los Angeles last Saturday. "It's one of those games where you watch the tape ... and you saw the chances last night and you watch the game again and then you start to see the things that you're doing to generate those chances. It's one of those games that we played really well and we didn't get the win. It was tough, it was a tough morning to come in here and see the guys. Everyone's down and disappointed to put a lot into that game to come out empty-handed and understanding the importance of the game. With that said, we have to move on and that's the purpose of today. We have to turn our attention to the New York Rangers and to that game tomorrow."

Normally after a loss, there's talk of change. At times, drastic change. But other than the fact the Blues couldn't put a puck into the ocean on Thursday, the effort was there from most and the execution within the game was really sound.

"Do you have to change them or do you have to stay with it? That's what we have to juggle," Yeo said. "There's some things that maybe we can do better. A couple times I think we could have stopped at the net a little bit better. Obviously we could have finished better in the game or the puck could have went in for us. When you're generating that number of chances, when you're outshooting a team 2-1 and out-possessing a team the way that we did, more often than not, you're going to come away with the win and so that's got to be our mindset looking at the things that we did well and making sure that we bring it tomorrow. For me, it's an attitude, it's a character game tomorrow how we bounce back and how we're ready for a team that we know is going to be ready for us.

"You generate that number of scoring chances, you're going to score goals more often than not. We're not handing out participation ribbons here by any means, but the philosophy's always been and always will be that we have a game that we have to play and an identity that we have as a team. When you do those things, then more often than not, you're going to win the hockey game. We've played three really good games in a row, we've got two out of our last three wins and we have to make sure we play the game a similar way because when you do that, you give yourself a chance to win every single night."

The Blues came in on Friday for treatments and off-ice meetings and video. Only eight skaters participated in on-ice drills, but the loss really puts the Blues in a bind with 12 games remaining. 

They came into Friday four points behind Dallas, which was in Ottawa Friday night, for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference and five in back of Colorado, which hosted Nashville Friday and was five points ahead of the Blues for the first wildcard. Throw in the fact that Anaheim (three points) and Calgary (one point) -- both of which also played Friday -- are ahead of the Blues, makes this a daunting task.

"I don't know what the math is to be honest with you," Yeo said. "I just know that we have to be ready for tomorrow and that's the mindset that we have to have here.

"We have to make sure that we put that one behind us. It's not an easy one to put behind you. You can see it on the players' faces when they came to the rink. That's why this game tomorrow is a character game for me. Our ability to bounce back from this one and get re-energized and get excited about the game tomorrow, go out there and play at our highest level. That's the challenge."

* NOTES -- Goalie Carter Hutton is considered day-to-day with a neck injury that he sustained during the morning skate on March 9 in San Jose.

Hutton had an MRI done Wednesday afternoon to get some results as to any further complications, but Yeo said nothing indicated there was anything that would lead to believe it was a day-to-day injury.

"He's day-to-day right now. Same thing, nothing has changed there," Yeo said. "It's just a matter of when he feels better and ready to get back on the ice. ... It's a comfort thing for him right now and when he feels ready to go and healthy enough to go, then we'll get him back in."

Meanwhile, Ville Husso, one of the eight skaters practicing Friday, could see action in his first NHL game this weekend, perhaps Sunday night in Chicago, but Yeo wouldn't rule out Jake Allen playing both games. He's also confident in using Husso if the situation arose. 

"He's looked good in practice and watched him play down in Ontario with San Antonio there," Yeo said of Husso. "He looks like a good goalie, and I'm confident in Jake too. We'll see how the game goes tomorrow but certainly won't be opposed to playing Jake in both games, so we'll see. I don't have a plan. I've got a plan for tomorrow and that's about it."

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