Friday, October 5, 2018


Back to work following season opening loss to Jets; is 
Edmundson ready to return; Bortuzzo back; Soshnikov a full participant

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Sometimes the video can provide more analysis that the raw emotions following a game. 

For Mike Yeo and the Blues, everything they thought went poorly and everything they though they did well but couldn't execute was par for the course a day after a 5-1 season opening loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

The Blues put 42 shots on Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who was stellar between the pipes; they generated a good amount of Grade-A scoring chances that were thwarted, but the game got away in a 1:44 span in the third period when the Jets scored three times on consecutive shots and made the score worse than it seemed.

"A of the things we felt after the game, obviously there were some good things," Yeo said. "We generated some opportunities, drew some power plays. Their goalie played really well and we missed the net on some chances, but that said, it wasn't sustained and consistent enough in our game. Too many broken plays, too many turnovers, whether it's poor execution or whether it's poor decisions and mindset that didn't allow us to really just keep the throttle down. It leads to broken plays, leads to loss of momentum, leads to plays coming back at us and either turning into scoring chances against or time spent in our own zone. We would like to be better in our execution as far as making the plays when they're there and making the plays in the decisions when we need them to be made.

"We looked at video today, addressed some of the things that we need to do better, looked at some of the things when we are doing the right things and how effective they are and just making sure we get our heads straight and work on the things we do in practice and have the right mindset for tomorrow."

Cleaner exits out of the defensive zone would be a good place to start. 

The Blues found themselves too many times having plays get broken up and result in turnovers, disrupting flow up the ice or sustained zone time for the Jets leading to longer and tiring shifts.

"We were just a little bit disconnected. That starts with the D," said defenseman Vince Dunn, who scored the lone goal for the Blues in the third period. "Even for myself, I think maybe we think we have more time than we do. I think maybe just the easiest thing for us to do right now, especially at the start of the season, is to get it into the forwards' hands as clean as possible. It's something that we can work on in practice. We're going to keep learning as we go through these couple games here and the first couple practices as a whole team. Just getting used to each other now is the most important thing."

* Jake jeered -- Blues goalie Jake Allen was the recipient of unwarranted bronx cheers in the third period of the loss Thursday; he made 20 saves on 25 shots.

Allen played well and held the Blues in the game when it was still hanging in the balance at 1-0 in the third period before a shorthanded goal by Adam Lowry for all intents and purposes iced the game for the Jets.

But four goals in a five-shot span induced some recent feelings from fans in the building that don't have the faith that he can pull himself into a top-tiered goalie.

"We support our fans 100 percent, but bottom line is when it comes to us as a team, it has to be inside the locker room and we have to support him," Yeo said of Allen. "If we felt that Jake wasn't doing the job that he needed to do, then obviously we're going to address that and we're going to talk to him, but if we feel there's other issues there, then we'll support him and we'll do what we can on our part. This is a team game. ... Gave up way too many high quality chances in the third period. That's not our game, that's not how we play it, so we have to be better."

* Edmundson to play Saturday? -- Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson did not skate on Friday. He continues to deal with a groin issue sustained last Friday in a 3-1 preseason win against the Dallas Stars.

Edmundson missed the opener Thursday but has an outside chance of playing on Saturday.

"The plan is for him to join us for pregame skate tomorrow, so we'll see," Yeo said.

Chris Butler, who was paired with Jordan Schmaltz on Thursday, skated with Colton Parayko on Friday with Bortuzzo returning to the lineup Saturday and could be a sign that Edmundson could slot into Butler's spot and play alongside Parayko.

The safer option would be to hold Edmundson out because the Blues don't play again until Thursday and give him almost a full two weeks off, but if the player feels he's ready, then he'll play.

* Bortuzzo back -- Bortuzzo skated on the third pairing with Vince Dunn Friday.

Bortuzzo sat out the season opener, the third of a three-game suspension stemming from an elbowing incident Sept. 25 against the Washington Capitals on defenseman Michal Kempny.

"Physical element and 'Borts' is a smart player the way he moves the puck, distributes the puck, he'll skate with it when it's there, but he likes to get the puck quickly up to our forwards' hands and that's what we need," Yeo said.

* Soshnikov full participant -- Forward Nikita Soshnikov skated with the Blues for a third straight day.

Soshnikov has been out most of training camp and early part of the season with a concussion sustained on a puck that hit him below the ear while training in Toronto this past summer at BioSteel Sports Camp.

Soshnikov said he's been skating for weeks now but doesn't know when he'll be able to return.

"I don't know. In my case, it's hard to say because of the time of injury, but I don't think it's too long," Soshnikov said. "I've been skating quite a bit actually. Although I've been out of the team, like six weeks already. I've been pretty much skating the whole time, just kind of like up and down, you know.

"I came here Sept. 3rd. I spent the summer in Toronto. I (got hit) with the puck in the ear during summer skate. It's kind of fluke play."

Soshnikov feels better every day and could conceivably head to San Antonio for a conditioning stint, something he would welcome but that will be left up to team management. 

"A hundred percent I feel like I'm getting better," Soshnikov said. "Today was my first full practice with the team and felt actually pretty good. Just have to get back up to speed."

* Schmaltz debut -- With Bortuzzo back and possibly Edmundson too, it appears Jordan Schmaltz will be on the outside when the Blues host the Blackhawks, once again delaying that Schmaltz vs. Schmaltz matchup. Jordan's younger brother Nick is a center for the Blackhawks.

Neither hurt their cause in the loss against the Jets.

"I thought 'Buttsie' played very, very well, and 'Schmaltzy' had moments where he was very good," Yeo said. "There were a couple times where I'd like to see him a little more aggressive, a little bit harder maybe in some situations, but you can see when he's on top of the game, on top of his game as far as going back retrieving pucks, he has the ability to skate and make plays. The game from Butler was as good as I've seen him play here."

* Young kids fit in -- It wasn't a stat sheet filled with goals and assists since the Blues could only get one, but the play of young guys Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais and Jordan Kyrou wasn't bad.

Barbashev, Thomas and Blais accounted for some solid sustained zone time, particularly in the first period, for the Blues before they were on the ice for two of the Jets' goals in the third/

"I think that they were getting into the offensive zone and that's how you get momentum," Yeo said. "You look at our team as a whole, you could count maybe four or five shifts that were extended in the offensive zone, that's not nearly enough and I would say that they had two or three of them. It's just a bit of a mindset making sure we value zone time and there's more purpose getting in there, getting pucks in, having the right forecheck and the right structure, but the right work ethic to go and get those pucks and then making sure that you're not one-and-done in the offensive zone."

Kyrou skated with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn and Yeo said he did his job.

"I was happy with his game," Yeo said. "He created some good chances. There were a couple plays and a couple times where we can do things a little bit better or a little bit differently. All in all, he didn't look like a young guy playing in his first NHL game. I thought he looked poised and confident and made plays."

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Chris Butler played very well in the season opener.