Monday, November 26, 2018


Maroon gets monkey off his back despite lopsided loss, wants
to focus on 5-on-5 game; Thomas multi tasks; Steen, Bortuzzo skate

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Pat Maroon always envisioned what that first goal with his hometown team would be like.

Everyone has that fairy tale vision, perhaps it being a game-winner in front of the home fans at Enterprise Center out of the gates, looking up in the stands and seeing his son Anthony and perhaps giving him a fist pump to him or a number of family and friends. But in a 7-3 game, making it 7-4, Maroon was finally able to grab that monkey that didn't feel like going anywhere and throwing it far away by scoring that first goal in his 16th game during an 8-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, a power-play marker that broke the Blues' 0-for-26 funk. 

Maroon took a pass down low from David Perron and was able to curl to his right off the left post and whip it past Laurent Brossoit, but in a game so far out of hand in the third period, there was no celebration, no high-fives, no fist pumps. Just a simple skate to the bench.

"I think if it was a 3-3 hockey game, obviously we've all dreamed of that, but it is what it is," Maroon said Monday. "... It's not the goal I wanted to score. You're down 7-3, but it feels good to get the first one out of the way. Hopefully the floodgates kind of open up. I've played with a little more confidence here moving forward. I feel like the last two games I've been pretty effective so I've got to just find ways to feed off that energy and just keep playing the right way and things will hopefully start to fall in the right direction."

Maroon, who has eight points (seven of them assists, and all of them on the power play) in 16 games, wants to make a difference in his first season with the Blues playing 5-on-5 hockey, and feels he's been able to do that after being a healthy scratch for a pair of games and missing four here recently because of an upper-body injury.

"I just need to find a way to get 5-on-5 going," Maroon said. "I usually get all my goals and points there, so obviously I've just got to continue in the right direction. It feels good to get that one off the back. We feel like there's been a weight on your chest these last 15 games. You feel like you never know when it's going to happen but you've got to stick with it and hopefully good things happen. I'm just happy it went in and hopefully our team can find our team game. We're not out of this yet. I don't think we're counting ourselves out. We're far from out of it. We're only 22 games in, so there's always room to gain here. We're only one month away from being where we have to be. We have to focus on Detroit and hopefully things start to fall into place.

"I think just getting to the net, protecting the puck, bringing it to the net. I haven't been doing that. I know last game I did that. I took it to the net there and created some havoc. We got a couple whacks at it, a couple scoring chances. Protecting the puck, making plays in tight. I made that play to 'Bozie' [Tyler Bozak] there in the third. Just those little things, moving my feet, pushing the pace, getting in on the forecheck, being hard and physical. Just keep doing that and I think good things are going to happen."

Blues interim coach Craig Berube, who has played Maroon with David Perron and Tyler Bozak the past two games, likes where Maroon's game is trending and feels he has to get to a certain focus to be effective.

"Moving his feet for one," Berube said. "Patty's got to move his feet all the time and he's got to push the pace so he can get there. I think he's done that the last couple games. I was happy with his game. The other part is down low in the offensive zone working the puck below the goal line, getting to the front of the net obviously and scoring some dirty goals for us. Like everybody else, he's got to be defensive responsibly. You've got to be responsible defensively.

"It's always good and it's always good for a guy that doesn't have a goal to get one."

* Thomas expanding his horizons -- The Blues drafted Robert Thomas as a center and played him there the first 15 games of his NHL career.

The 2017 first-round pick didn't fail there but like many rookies getting their footing on level ground at the NHL level, there were the proverbial ups and downs.

So the past three games since the coaching change from Mike Yeo to Craig Berube, Berube has moved Thomas to right wing with Robby Fabbri on the left and moved Brayden Schenn back to center.

"I think it's been a little bit of an adjustment, but overall pretty good," Thomas said. "When you have a couple good linemates, it makes that a lot easier. It's just kind of little things that you kind of got to get used to, but overall I think it's been pretty good.

"Sometimes you've got to find ways to get speed, sometimes you get stuck on the blue line standing still and you've got to make up for it when you're going in on the forechecks. A couple little things like that and just in the D-zone finding the right lanes and stuff." 

Thomas scored his first NHL goal last Wednesday in a 4-1 loss at Nashville but has seen his minutes increase drastically from the early-season 10-11 minute games to more like 15, 16, 17, 18 and a career-high 19:04 in that loss to the Predators.

"Obviously a great opportunity for me," Thomas said. "The last couple games, besides last game, I thought I've done a pretty good job of it. I think it's just keep building off of that. You're going to have a bad game, so you just rebound. 

"Haven't played wing in a couple years. Played a bit first year in junior, but other than that, not really too much. ... I think it's just been a game by game thing. Every game you get more comfortable. I think the one in Nashville was a good step for me and as well as Nashville here. Those kind of games you just keep on building from."

Berube trusts the 19-year-old Thomas, who is seeing special teams play on both sides, too, but getting a look at him on right wing has its benefits.

"I wanted to get Schenn back in the middle and Robby Thomas has got great vision with the puck that can make plays and he's playing with one of our guys that we need to score goals," Berube said.

* Blues gearing for three-game trip -- On the heels of that ugly 8-4 loss to the Jets, just 24 hours after hammering Nashville in the second of the home-and-home, 6-2, in one of the more impressive showings of the season, the Blues (8-11-3) get set to tackle a three-game road trip to Detroit on Wednesday, Colorado on Friday and Arizona on Saturday.

But once again, they're left answering questions about why they couldn't follow up on what was an impressive, potential season-turning win over Nashville to completely falling flat again.

Oh, and some guy named Patrik Laine made history by scoring five goals.

"I wish it was a simple answer and a simple change," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "It's going to be extremely difficult, but obviously our consistency isn't there. We're up and down and we have to limit that.

"Obviously we're a quarter of the way through the season and we're very disappointed. This is not where we expected to be. The good thing is we still have a bit of time to get back into this fight. I believe we do have a group for it, because obviously if you look at us on paper, I think we're as good as anyone. At the end of the day, it comes down to us and producing and performing the right way. Myself included, we've just been too inconsistent. We have to find a way to show up every game. Some games it could be a 2-1 win. Other games, we might be putting the puck in the net, but we have to and I think we will."

So the Blues came to practice to watch film, get on the ice for two days (Monday and Tuesday) before hitting the road looking for a consistent trip that can perhaps get them back to .500 if all goes well.

"Through video, we looked at stuff and just missed coverages in a lot of areas," Berube said. "We let that game slip away from us. I knew it was going to be a tough game energy-wise with a lot of emotions going on the last few days and games. I thought both Nashville games, they were hard games, a lot of energy used up. I thought that we lacked energy in that Winnipeg game, which I expected, but our brains kind of turned off, too, which is not a good thing. We left obviously Laine open too many times and not with coverages and things like that. More or less, we just went over that stuff.

"I don't think it was for a lack of trying in that [Winnipeg] game. We weren't very smart in that game. We took dumb penalties and we didn't defend very well at all, and when we got the puck, we just gave it back to them. There were a number of things that weren't very good in that game. To me, energy was at the bottom of it. There's other things ... if you don't have energy, you can still do the right things and we didn't."

Maroon set the bar by dropping the gloves with Nashville's Austin Watson two seconds after puck drop, and Schenn followed suit 73 seconds later with a scrap with Ryan Hartman. The post-Thanksgiving crowd was jacked, the players were pumped and the Blues soared.

Then against Winnipeg ... 

"We waited," Maroon said. "(Against) Nashville, we dictated the play. We basically came out of the gates flying and we told them we were coming at them instead of waiting for them to come at us, and we waited for Winnipeg. I don't think they had that good of a start. I just think we waited and we waited and they got one, they got two and we were playing from behind. 

"We've got to find ways to basically the dictate play, play hard every night, be strong on sticks, be heavy and doing the right things. We can't wait for someone to just bring us energy every night. We've got to find other ways for guys to step up and bring energy. If that's having a hit or just even on the forecheck or cycling the puck, having that line in there, high to low, create some frustration for their 'D' or their forwards to know that it's going to be a hard night for them every night. That's just being heavy and between the ears. I think we've got to find ways to just focus on what we can control and that's our game, control what we can dictate and if we do those things and play heavy and focus on the task at hand, I think we're going to be pretty good."

* Monday practice update -- The Blues were without six notables on the ice.

Left wing Jaden Schwartz (upper body) and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) were both out again and they seem unlikely to play against the Red Wings or on this trip unless they get on the ice soon, but Fabbri, Bozak, Ivan Barbashev and Jordan Schmaltz all missed practice with what Berube called maintenance days.

But forward Alexander Steen (upper body) and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who's missed the past 15 games with a lower-body injury, took part in practice and could return at any time.

"They're looking good," Berube said. "I thought they had a real good practice today and both felt good. Just kind of go day-to-day with them and see how they are tomorrow.

"... Obviously we were missing a few guys out there though, but they should be good tomorrow. Maintenance more than anything for all four of them. Nothing major."

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Laine scored five, Jets expose Blues defensively again in 8-4 rout

Winnipeg sharpshooter becomes first player in seven years to score 
five in a game; Blues fail to build off solid Friday win over Nashville

ST. LOUIS -- Well, so much for backing up that statement win on Friday.

For what seems like the millionth time that the Blues felt they got the blueprint for how they were going to string together some consistent efforts, and more importantly, get some wins racked up and get back to where they feel they belong.

The Blues said all the right words, they talked the talk after blitzing Nashville, arguably the best team in the NHL on Friday, and could really begin to make inroads with another solid win against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson (right), checks a Jets player during an 
8-4 loss. Edmundson said the Blues deserved to get booed off the ice.

But the Blues happened, again, as in the Blues of much of this season, the one that couldn't defend a beach ball on a player's stick. That's how it must have felt for sharpshooter Patrik Laine, who played target practice with first Chad Johnson, then Jake Allen in outscoring the Blues himself with five goals in an 8-4 Jets win before 17,028 at Enterprise Center that sounded at game's end like an all-too-familiar sound: boo's reigning down on the players as they departed the ice.

It's been a common theme through the first 22 games of the season for the Blues, who dropped to 8-11-3 on the season. And it all boils down to consistency, effort and execution. There was minimal amounts of any of them at all in this game.

And for frustrated fans who are tired of the same rhetoric coming from the locker room after every one of these puzzling losses, puzzling for the way they happen, the players keep backing themselves into a corner with no escape plan that sooner or later will close all walls.

"Just honestly, lack of effort," defenseman Joel Edmundson said matter-of-factly. "We were focused so much on our offense, we didn't take care of our own D-zone. We let one guy score five goals. We shouldn't be letting a team score five goals, let along one guy.

"... It's embarrassing. The fans don't deserve that, and especially at home where you've got to leave it all on the line. These fans deserve better than that and we definitely deserved to be booed off the ice tonight."

It's the worst feeling for a player when his own supporters boo them of the ice, but the Blues are now a poor 6-7-1 on home ice, and in those home losses, they've allowed eight goals, seven, and five three different occasions.

"This is a tough one to swallow, especially after the effort we gave last night, beating a team like that," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of a 6-2 win against the Predators. "We've got to be ready to play. It's a back-to-back, early game, we've got to be ready to play.

"Sometimes it's harder when you have a game like that to grab it. We've got to be ready to play. All their goals were just pucks in front of the net that we're not hard enough on. We've just got to be ready from the start."

And comes the same question Blues fans want to know: how are the Blues not ready to play? It's puzzling and most frustrating.

"I know it's tough right now, but we've got to go to work and get a lot better," said forward David Perron, who had a goal and an assist, his first goal in 14 games. "We still have to come together as a group.

"... It doesn't matter how it goes right now. We have to put our work boots (on) at practice and make sure we recover from that game. It's been one good game, one bad game. Let's get on a roll here, let's break through and finally put two, three, four, five games in a row. At the same time, I know all you guys are doing a great job reporting and all that, but we can't listen to the noise. We've got to come together as a team, together within us and work really hard and show everybody what kind of team we can have."

The Blues fell to 8-2-2 when scoring four goals in a game this season, and what's disturbing is that there are four losses there already among 22 games in which are lost with that kind of offense.

It was back to the old when the Blues are starting to score again but can't defend.

Laine was the recipient of the shoddy defense, and on a couple occasions, could have pitched a tent. That's how wide open he was.

"Missed coverage. We didn't do a very good job defensively tonight," interim coach Craig Berube said. "Sticks were brutal tonight. We didn't have good sticks defensively.

"... We came out flat. They were clearly the better team." 

Obviously, and even after a 2-2 first period in which Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko's first goal in 11 games made it an even game with 40 minutes to play, the Jets capitalized with four second-period goals to put the game away, including a hat trick from Laine in the period alone.

"Sometimes you're overworking, not the right coverage," Pietrangelo said. "We just have to let the guys who are on the puck do the job and trust that he's going to win the battle. You can't leave a guy like that open."

Laine put Winnipeg ahead for good 1 minute 41 seconds into the period with a power-play goal after a poor decision from Tarasenko to take a roughing penalty by punching Nikolaj Ehlers after Taraenko had laid Ehlers out in the Jets zone, and Ehlers came back at Tarasenko when he had the puck and checked him back.

"No. It's not a good penalty," Berube said. "But Vladi's playing with a lot of emotion right now. And sometimes it gets carried too far."

Berube made the decision to start Johnson, who was victimized for four Laine goals. Johnson was pulled when Laine's fourth of the game made it 6-2 at the 16:02 mark of the second period.

Johnson allowed six goals on 25 shots.

"Just back-to-back games," Berube said of going with Johnson instead of Allen. "We have a plan in place. So we stick to it."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Chad Johnson (31) can only look away after Winnipeg's Patrik
Laine (29) scored one of his five goals on Saturday.

In all the chaos caused by another lackluster result, Pat Maroon scored his first goal as a Blue, on the power-play, to break an 0-for-26 slide, and Ryan O'Reilly scored his team-leading 12th.

But with all the defensive problems that resurfaced again Saturday, as was posed in this space after Friday's win: now what? What's next?

"We'll take advantage of the three days to change some things and get used to the changes we've made," Pietrangelo said. "But the reality is it comes down to work and being ready."

Which they were once again clearly not on Saturday.

As for Laine: he became the third player since the 1997-98 season to score five goals in a game and the first since Johan Franzen did it for the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 2, 2011. Marian Gaborik (Dec. 20, 2007) did it with the Minnesota Wild.

Laine, who leads the NHL with 19 goals, has 11 goals during a four-game goal streak and his seventh NHL hat trick is the second most before the age of 21, done in 177 games; he broke a tie with Dale Hawerchuk and Jimmy Carson, who each had six, and trails Wayne Gretzky, who had 12 in 210 games.

Laine is the 14th player in NHL history and sixth in the League's modern era (1943-44) to score at least three hat tricks through his team's first 22 games of a season.

Laine is the first player to score four goals this season and fourth player in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history to do so. The others were Mathieu Perreault (Jan. 13, 2015 vs. the Florida Panthers), Ilya Kovalchuk (Nov. 11, 2005 vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning) and Pascal Rheaume (Jan. 19, 2002 at Florida). Laine has 99 NHL goals. Only six players in NHL history have hit 100 goals before turning 21. They are Gretzky (167), Jimmy Carson (141), Dale Hawerchuk (122), Steven Stamkos (114), Kovalchuk (108) and Brian Bellows (102).

Saturday, November 24, 2018

From Forsberg to Bure to no particular reason, Blues skaters dissect their current numbers, ones they grew up wearing

Some players wore numbers idolizing their favorite player, 
some didn't have one, others just went with what they were given

ST. LOUIS -- Blues fans have their favorite players and know the numbers they wear by heart.

Ever wonder if the numbers they actually wear are their favorite numbers, if they were just given to them and why? Or if they had a different favorite number and why?

Well, gauging the comments from every player on the roster, some of the common names to come up as favorite players and numbers included Peter Forsberg and Pavel Bure more than a couple times.

Here are your Blues players in numerical order and their answers:

Carl Gunnarsson, No. 4
What was your favorite number?

Nick Lidstrom. I don't think anyone can compare themselves to him, but I just enjoyed watching him play. It looked so effortless. One of the all-time best. 

Did you ever wear No. 5?
Last time I wore five was way back, probably like 13, 14 years ago, that was it. Every team I've been on, it's been taken or up in the rafters. That's been a tough one to get. Five was taken here, a couple numbers I had in the past were taken, too, and I like the low ones. 

Why No. 4?
Four kind of just stuck with me. I had 36 in Toronto. That was a camp number, so I didn't want to do that again.

Joel Edmundson, No. 6
What was your favorite number growing up?
I'd say 19. A lot of goal scorers wore No. 19. 

You couldn't get No. 19 here because of Jay Bouwmeester:
He's 19 now, but back when I watched him, he was No. 4. He used to be one of my favorite players growing up. But I played forward for a year, so I wore No. 19. That was back in peewee, so I was 12-ish. I wore No. 19 as a centerman and I put up over 200 points. Back in the day, I used to be offensive, but that slowly went away. There's not really any reason. Goal scorers, lots of guys wore it in the league. 

How did you come to No. 6?
They told me here it was six or one other number and I said I'll take six. My prospect number was 62. Once I made the team, they gave me a couple options. I wanted to keep a low number, so No. 6 was it. Lots of low numbers retired on this team, so this was one of the ones available so I took it.

Pat Maroon, No. 7
Did you have a favorite number?
Seven was my favorite number. I've always wore that number, I always had it. 

Easy to take when you signed in your hometown?
It was one of those things where it was available and I had it to take. Obviously (No.) 19 was taken by 'Bouw' so seven was available. In Anaheim, it was 62 and 19, so 19 was with me in the minors all the way through so I just figured I'd stick with it. 

Did you get to wear either No. 7 or No. 19 when you first got started?
When you're in training camp, they give you a number and I was 62 for two years and changed the last few years. And I was 17 in New Jersey last year. Seventeen was taken here, 19 was taken. So there wasn't too many options after that.

Sammy Blais, No. 9 
What was your favorite number?
I've always had when I was younger No. 9 as my number. I like 19 a lot, but 'Bouw' got it, so I always liked nine or 19. Just decided to switch it up and finally have a good number.

You wore No. 64 before and both you and Robert Thomas wanted No. 9. Why did you get it?
I think I had the first choice, so I took No. 9, but I think [Thomas] looks good with No. 18. I just decided to take No. 9 because it was open.

Brayden Schenn, No. 10 
Is No. 10 your favorite number?
Ten's been my number. I've worn 10 my whole life. I wore it in Philly, I wore it in junior, I wore it in L.A. when I made the team. 

Did you get it right away after the Kings drafted you?
They first gave the rookie No. 55 and they let me switch it to 10. It's just kind of worked out where I came to teams. The only time I didn't wear it was in junior. I wore 21 because 10 was retired in Saskatoon. Other than that, I pretty much wore it my entire life, even minor hockey, so yeah, I guess 10's my number. 

Why No. 10?
I was always a big fan of Pavel Bure back in the day. He was the guy you rooted for. A skilled Russian, dynamic that can wow you at any time. I got attached to his game and the number. They were waiting for 'Uppy' [Scottie Upshall] if he was going to come back or not, and then they said he wasn't coming back, so they gave me 10, and then 'Uppy' did come back.

Zach Sanford, No. 12
You're a Massachussetts native. Is this an easy question what your favorite number was?
I liked (No.) 4, I loved Bobby Orr. I never watched him. I was a huge Bruins fan. He's the most famous Bruin of all time probably. It was either that, or my dad [Michael] used to wear (No.) 8 a little bit when I was younger. It would have been cool (to get that number to honor my dad). 

When did you start wearing 12?
I had 12 when I was in juniors. I was 21 in high school so that's where the 12 came from. Just flip it around. 

Me and my dad used to watch every Bruins game growing up. We were pretty big fans. 

You weren't able to get 12 when you first were traded here:
I was 82 when I first came here. That was just a training camp number. I didn't want that one. That's for the Euros. I wore 12 for two years. I think I'll stick to it. I don't want to be switching too much.

Robby Fabbri, No. 15
What number did you grow up being fond of?
I was actually 21 for Peter Forsberg. I grew up loving him and watching him. I was 21, I don't know, my first year of playing triple-A. All through there. I couldn't wear it in juniors so in juniors, I was No. 9. That was just one of the best options they had. But with 21 and Forsberg, he had so much great skill and he still played hard. He's able to use his body and just the way he sees the ice and the way he plays, I've always grown up loving players that play like that. From a young age, I started liking him. 

How did you come to No. 15?
I don't know if they gave me 15 here or if it was just the best option they had. But I ended up settling into it and I like it now. I'm not much about switching numbers, so I'm good with 15 now.

Jaden Schwartz, No. 17 
What's your favorite number?
I really didn't have one. My uncle wore 15 when he was older, Darren Schwartz. He played in the East Coast [Hockey] League for a while and played juniors. Fifteen was always around our family. Seventeen was always there. 

You started with No. 9 with the Blues and switched to 17 to honor your sister Mandi, right?
Yeah, to wear it in honor of my sister, it means a lot. It's obviously a special meaning to our family. I wore it growing up but kind of got away from it a little bit, but when it was available, it was obvious. We were very, very close. She obviously had a huge impact on me. It was tough for us, but it makes my family proud that I'm wearing it.

Robert Thomas, No. 18
You wore No. 27 in Hamilton and started with 36 here and switched to 18. Why?
There wasn't really too many options there. I always wore nine and 27 growing up, so I just kind of picked something in the middle of it. I thought 18 suited me a little better than 36, so I decided to switch. ... [Blais] had already asked for (No. 9) before; he had wore nine growing up, so it was all his.

Jay Bouwmeester, No. 19
What was your favorite number?
I was never really into players because of their number. I was No. 4 for a long time just because when I played junior, they gave me No. 4. When I came here, I liked Steve Yzerman when I was a kid, and my only options were like 19 and 13 and something else, so I took 19. I've never been real particular about it. I don't see the significance in numbers. I've played on lots of different teams with lots of different numbers. It doesn't matter.

Alexander Steen, No. 20
What was your favorite number?
I switched quite a bit. I'd say 25 because my dad [Thomas Steen] was wearing 25 (in Winnipeg). I switched it up. I wore 52 for a while, then I made the pro team back home when I was 17 so I picked 17 as my number, and then I switched to MoDo and 17 was taken so I took 27; I just added 10, and then when I got to Toronto, they asked me and I just took 10. When I got traded here, I added 10 again. Ten for some reason, and then 20 and 25, I'd say, were my three numbers."

Tyler Bozak, No. 21
Did you have a favorite number growing up?
I never really had a favorite number. My old email had 68 in it because I liked [Jaromir] Jagr, so 68 was a number I liked. I never wore it. I was a big Pavel Bure fan too. He changed his number a lot, but I always liked what he was wearing. 

After wearing 42 in Toronto for nine seasons, you chose 21 here. Why?
I was 21 in college (at Denver University), and that was the number I really liked, and that was taken when I got to Toronto (by former Blue Lee Stempniak) so they gave me 42 and I stuck with that. When I got the chance to go back to my college number here, I did. I wore 21 just the two years in college and I had some really good success and I really liked the number, so it kind of became my favorite number.

Chris Thorburn, No. 22
What was your favorite number?
My favorite number was 17. I don't know, I think it was the first number given to me when I got my first jersey and I just tried to keep it all the way. Then I got to North Bay [Ontario Hockey League] and Chris Eade was wearing it, so then I switched to 16, and then from there I went to 19. It's not a superstitious thing, but 17 was my favorite number though growing up. 

What did you get when you first reached the NHL?
When I went to Buffalo, I had like 47, but then when I went to Pittsburgh, they asked what number and I said 22. It was available, they gave it to me, and then I went to Atlanta, Ken Klee was there. He usually wears No. 2 but Garnet Exelby was there. He took it when he got traded there, because he was an older guy, so he took 22 and then I went to 27, and then when we went to Winnipeg, I was wearing 27, which was Teppo Numminen's number. So out of respect ... I actually called Teppo; he never returned my call, to see if I could wear his number. He never returned my call, so I was like, 'Ahh!' I'll just change it because all of us were changing our numbers. Bryan Little, myself, and then I went back to 22 in Winnipeg and I just stuck with it. [Kevin] Shattenkirk was here before, so it was available in the summer when I signed, so it just worked out. Double deuces, it's my favorite now.

Alex Pietrangelo, No. 27
What was your favorite number?
I wore 10 growing up. (But) when I was a little kid, I wore 88 because I loved [Eric] Lindros. That's when I played forward. I don't know how I got onto 10. I do know that once I picked No. 10, because there were no other numbers, I started liking Pavel Bure just because he was like the best No. 10 at the time. 

Why 27 when you got here?
When I came here, it was 21 or 27, and the 'Berg Dog' [Patrik Berglund] took 21. I still remember that conversation on the plane. I didn't have much of a choice, it was 21 or 27. They just said these were your choices, and I was only 18; I'm not going to say anything. So 'Bergy' took 21 and there I was. And 27 has stuck with me. It's worked out well. I had 52 when I first came into camp, but that was a tough one. That was a training camp number. I wasn't going to keep 52. No. 27 stuck with me because of Scott Niedermeyer. Who else would I look to?

Jakub Jerabek, No. 28 
You've been here briefly, so what was your number growing up?
I had more numbers. I used to play with 15 when I was young, maybe this one, or five. Five was in our family. My father [Jaroslav] played soccer with five and my sister [Marketa] played handball then with five also. 

Coming here late, how did you settle for 28?
They gave me this number maybe here because I played with this last year in Montreal and Washington. I used five and 15 with soccer and tennis and I used to play street hockey with the guys and when the Czech Republic won the Olympics in '98, everyone wanted to be Jagr or [Dominik] Hasek. I just jumped on the ice and was really excited and a big fan. I fell in love with hockey and wore those numbers.

Vince Dunn, No. 29 
What was your number growing up?
Yeah, No. 4 probably. I was a big Bobby Orr fan. I was like a Bruins fan growing up. Bruins and Red Wings were probably my favorite teams. It's kind of hard to cheer for Toronto when you're a [Toronto] kid and they weren't doing so well. It's a little different now, but it's something that's like always been iconic in Canada. Bobby Orr's obviously a huge hockey figure and he did a lot in his career for how short it was.

What were you hoping to get when you turned pro?
I was hoping to be No. 4 in Chicago and I was No. 6, and that wasn't too bad. Other than that, I usually always have been No. 4. 

And why 29 when you came to St. Louis?
I think 29 is cool. It was a random number given to me. My birthday (fell) on the 29th of (October), so it kind of works for me and I just kind of stuck with it. It works. I didn't really like it at first, but I thought about it, and was like, 'Yeah, it's my birthday.' It works and might as well keep it if it's working.

Chad Johnson, No. 31
Goalies don't deviate from certain numbers, so what was your favorite number?
I liked No. 30. I think for me, it was just a lot of goalies I watched growing up. Ed Belfour, I sort of idolized him when he was with Dallas, maybe a little bit with Chicago. Marty Brodeur, obviously he was a big name. So it was kind of like that goalie number. Thirty was the start of those goalie numbers and so I just kind of fell in love with being No. 30 and as I moved on, it was difficult to kind of get 30 with the different teams I played for, especially in the NHL, so I linked up with 31 and I always had the opportunity to wear either 30 or 31, so I just decided to go with 31. That's what I've worn the last few years. In Long Island, I wore 30. When I first came into the league with the Rangers, I wore 29 just because [Henrik] Lundqvist was wearing 30. And then one year I think I was 30 in Boston, then the next year I was 30 again with the Islanders, so I just decided to switch over to 31. 

And coming here to St. Louis, 31 was right there waiting for you, right?
I've had choices. It worked out again this year where I had the choice of 30 or 31. Obviously, some great goalies have worn that number here. I have always been a fan of [Grant] Fuhr and [Curtis] Joseph obviously. Those guys were big names here and played big names. So 31 was a popular number here, and Brodeur was 30 when he was here. I was fortunate to get 31 and be able to wear it.

Jordan Kyrou, No. 33
Since Blues fans haven't really gotten to know you much, what was your number growing up?
I actually used to wear 55 because my birthday was May 5th. Fifth month, fifth day. I liked players, I didn't get into their numbers, but Pavel Datsyuk was my favorite player growing up and Nathan MacKinnon too. 

So what made you settle for 33 in St. Louis?
I got 33 because they wanted us to go with lower numbers. There weren't really too many options. In junior, I wore 25 and that wasn't really an option, so I just decided to stay with it here. They gave me 33 and there's really no rhyme or reason, so just stay with it.

Jake Allen, No. 34
Again, with goalies, there's certain numbers they wear. What was yours growing up?
John Vanbiesbrouck was always my favorite goalie and he was 34. That's why I more or less have 34 now I guess. When you're a kid, you don't really get to pick your number. When you're playing minor hockey, there's always No. 1 or No. 30 and then once you get to junior, you sort of have more of a choice and then when you get to pro, first in the American [Hockey] League, I never had the opportunity. I was 35 and then after that, they let me change to 34 so I just stuck with it that way. 

Why Vanbiesbrouck?
I always liked his mask in Florida as a kid. In Florida, he had a big cat mask. He was always had cool pads and at that time, he was a great goalie and got them to the Cup Finals there in '96, 97. He just always caught my attention. I had his jersey and I liked the cat logo. I had his jersey. I was a Panthers guy when he was there. 

Did you get 34 right away?
I had 35 in the minors in Peoria, but after that, I had 34 everywhere else. Actually, I had 35 in Chicago with the Wolves because 34 wasn't available, but the whole time with the Blues, it's been 34.

Robert Bortuzzo, No. 41 
What number were you fond of growing up?
Fifteen was mine. My cousin [Mike Wehrstedt] was a pretty good player and he wore 15. He played a little bit in the OHL. He was older and cooler and good at hockey, so I think I liked the number, and that was it. I wore it all through minor hockey all my life. 

And when the Penguins drafted you?
Pittsburgh gave me 41. Fifteen was gone in junior hockey, so I wore 21. That was for Peter Forsberg. Don't know why a young defenseman would want a Peter Forsberg number, but that's what I wore in junior. And 41 was my training camp number and that was it. I said I'm here and I'm not messing with things. I just stayed with it here. I figured once the coach knew my number, I don't want to change it. That was pretty much the reason why I kept it.

Jordan Schmaltz, No. 43
What was your number growing up as a Wisconsin guy who went to North Dakota?
My favorite number was seven or 24. I've always worn those, and I think just because [Chris] Chelios wore seven and then he switched to 24. I always liked watching him play. Especially growing up playing for the Mission in Chicago. The Hawks and even the Red Wings were always on, so he was probably my go-to guy to watch. I always liked watching him play. I started with seven and I kind of transformed over to 24 and then actually went back to seven in junior and went to 24 in North Dakota. 

You couldn't get either of those numbers here ... 
Well, seven was for [Keith] Tkachuk; that's an unwritten rule and I don't take that one and 24 was [Bernie] Federko, so those are both taken. Forty-three was a camp number and I just kind of rolled with it. My uncle [Mark Schmaltz], that was his number in football, 43, at North Dakota so I was just went with it. He was always a big beauty and a big supporter, so I'm rolling with it.

Ivan Barbashev, No. 49 
What was your favorite number in Russia?
Mine was 22. Since my older brother [Sergey], who's 26 or 27, started playing hockey, he always played it at No. 22, so usually he wore it. It kind of started being a family thing, so he started with 22 and I started playing with 22 when I was younger. My first year in the American [Hockey] League, I couldn't take 22 because somebody else had it, some of the older guys. For my second season, I had 22. 

What were you looking for when you got here?
So when I was here, before 'Thorbs' got traded or picked up, I asked for 22 and the guys told me like, 'Thorbs' is coming and I was like OK, whatever. It's OK. They just gave me 49 here. I don't care. I'd like to get 22 if I can. That's the thing. 'Thorbs' is 35. I can see him playing another couple years for sure. You never know. I'll wait. I'm OK with 49. I don't care. That's what they gave me and I don't really want to change anything. I'm totally fine with this. 

Colton Parayko, No. 55
You could take a pick of favorite numbers growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton and all those great Oilers players, so what was it?
Twelve. I was born on May 12th. It's kind of boring. I just started wearing it and that was the number I kind of stuck with playing hockey. I wore it through minor hockey, wore it in junior, then in college, it was taken by a guy ahead of me in my class [Garrick Perry]. As soon as I got four, I went with four in college and didn't really change. I also wore 12 during my time at Fort McMurray, 10 the first year, 12 the second year.

So how did you come to 55 here?
I got it out of camp here. When you come in, they just give you numbers and they asked me if I wanted to change, and I thought it looked good. Seems like a cool number, I don't know. The 'Colt 55' started to catch on. Some people were saying that, and with the 'Colt 45', some people were like, 'You ought to get 45,' and I was like, 'I don't know. This looks fine.' I'm not really a big number guy, so it doesn't matter. I could have probably taken 12, but Jori [Lehtera] wore it when I first got here. If 12 was open, I would have taken it at that time, but now that I have 55, I think I'll just stay. 

David Perron, No. 57
So what was a kid from Quebec fond of growing up?
Mine was 21 with Peter Forsberg. I really liked following him growing up. I just thought he was great making plays and played hard. It's when I was really, really young and after that, I actually had 57 one year in minor hockey, but it was given to me just like it was given to me here and that's pretty much it. When I was young, I wore 21 a lot and I was a center back then just like Forsberg was, so I was just trying to kind of mold my game around him, work hard, make plays and kind of try and do it all for the team like he was. He was a great player. I like his grittiness how strong he was on the puck even though he was a smaller guy. And then as I grew older, guys like [Alexei] Kovalev, those guys with a lot of skill. They really impressed me too.

So when you came here, what made you decide on 57?
I didn't really like (57) when I started, but it was the number they gave me here, and if I wanted to be here, I just wanted to have a jersey on my back. It didn't really matter what the number was and then midway through the year, they asked me if I wanted to change and I kind of got used to it one year in minor hockey, so I stuck with it. It worked out with all the teams I've been on, I could wear it.

I had 39 in junior and with Dougie Weight being here, all the respect for him, I wasn't going to do that and then the next year, I had wore 39 like one half season in Pittsburgh, but it's just a number at the end of the day, but now I'm used to 57 and I like it.

Oskar Sundqvist, No. 70
Did you have a number you were fond of growing up?
No, I didn't. I had all different kinds of numbers when I was younger. I didn't really have a favorite one. I liked Peter Forsberg, but I didn't like his number. I don't know why, but I didn't like 21. I liked him as a player. 

So when you turned pro, you didn't care what you got? And is that the case when you came here?
When I came here, first I wanted 40, but that was [Carter] Hutton, and then I wanted 41 and that was [Robert] Bortuzzo and then I just came up with 70. I don't know why I came up with that. I like a number with a zero in it, if I had to pick. Zero or a one, except for 21 though. Ninety-one is nice, 71 is nice, 90 is nice. I think I've worn 8, 11, 29, 40 and now 70. I'll just stay with 70 for now. I like 70 so I'll stick with that one for now. 

Nikita Soshnikov, No. 86
What was your favorite number?
I never really had one. I never really paid attention to numbers. When I picked one, it was 90. I don't know why, but for whatever reason, my buddies had like five numbers, so I had to choose one of them, so I had to be one in between. I wore 90 with the [Toronto] Marlies, but when I came to the Leafs, high numbers weren't allowed, so I had 41 and I actually liked this number, 41. They gave me 41 and I kind of liked it, but we had 41 here and I had to choose something else. 

So why did you take 90 and what made you settle for 86 when you changed and why?
I took 90, but [Ryan] O'Reilly was playing in this league for a long time. So I gave that to him, and took 86, and to be honest, I don't know why. I didn't know which number to choose. I kind of liked this one so I just picked it.

Ryan O'Reilly, No. 90
Did you wear a particular number when you were younger and liked?
I always wore nine when I was young. I always loved nine because it was what my brother [Cal] wore. He's in Des Moines, and then I had a cousin [Bill Bowler] played before. Played pro for a while, played in the American League and IHL [International Hockey League]. He wore nine all through his junior career. He holds the all-time points record for Windsor in the OHL and maybe assist record. He played five years and like just lit it up, so he was someone that we always watched and idolized. Nine was the big number. 

Were you able to wear it?
I didn't get to wear it a lot, because it was such a popular number, so a lot of kids had it. I bounced around, but I really liked it when [Mike] Modano went to Detroit, and he wore 90. I was wearing 37 at the time, but I was like, 'That's a sick number.' A guy always wore nine went to 90. I liked it and I always thought it would look nice with the O'Reilly, like the zero of the O'Reilly and the nine. Now I love it. I've been wearing 90 for seven years now. I wore 37 for the first three years (in Colorado) and then I switched and I got it. It worked out well here. I like the number. 

Vladimir Tarasenko, No. 91
Another Russian kid growing up, what was your go-to number?
Ten was my favorite. It used to be 10. I always played 10. My grandpa [Vladimir] played 10, my dad [Andrei] played 10. I played 10, but then I went to KHL team and 10 was taken already. So I start to play 91 and then 10 was open and I was like, 'OK, there's no need to change no more.' And that's how it ended up. I used to play 10, I also have 13 a little bit, but 10 is like a family tradition. 

When you came to St. Louis, why 91?
And 91 is the year I was born and 13 was the date of I was born. It's simple. When I start playing here, there was no need to change. You get used to playing 91 all the time and then with Russian national team, I was 91 and there was no need to change.

(11-24-18) Jets-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- No comes the challenging part for the Blues again tonight, when they close a stretch of three games in four nights at Enterprise Center against the Winnipeg Jets (6 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

The Blues played hard, played for one another but mistakes hurt them against Nashville Wednesday and they lost in Music City 4-1. On Friday, the Blues certainly played for one another, brought an element of physicality not seen often and it produced a 6-2 convincing win against the Predators in the rematch.

Against the Jets (12-7-2), who the Blues (8-10-3) are 0-1-1 against this season after a season-opening 5-1 loss at home on Oct. 4 and a 5-4 overtime loss at Winnipeg on Oct. 22, the Blues will have to try and duplicate and keep a consistent blueprint of playing to a high level and standard, one which was expected at the start of the season.

They've had a number of signature wins this season (4-1 at Toronto on Oct. 20, 4-0 at home against San Jose on Nov. 9 and 4-1 at Vegas on Nov. 16) but couldn't follow those up with a consistent level of play.

"I think that's what kind of team we have to be," said Blues center Brayden Schenn, who had a goal and an assist Friday and picked up his second career Gordie Howe hat trick. "We're a hard, big, heavy team. If we're not playing physical, we're not going to be that hard to play against. We've done it two times (in a row) so far, we've got another challenge (tonight)."

The Blues were able to manhandle and force the Predators to play on their heels Friday. Can they follow it up again tonight?

They'll likely have to do it in a different manner with the Jets being a bigger, heavier opponent than the one the Blues faced on Friday.

"Yeah, we have to," said forward Pat Maroon, who along with Schenn set the tone Friday with two fights in the first 75 seconds of the game. "I think Petro [Alex Pietrangelo] said it in the media before … we win one, lose one, win one, lose one, or we win one and then lose three or four. We’ve got to find ways to win two, three, four, five in a row. It hasn’t been a good month, it hasn’t been a good start of the season, but (tonight) is another good test where if we can beat another good hockey team … hopefully it will be another good two points."

The Blues finished with 29 hits Friday, and coach Craig Berube, who picked up his first win after taking over on an interim basis for Mike Yeo last Monday, said the Blues cannot back down off that mantle.

"You have to play hard in this league," Berube said. "Everybody works hard but you have to play hard. That's just what you have to do. If you want to be successful and be a good team, you have to play hard and that involves being physical and it involves a lot of things."

The Blues should be prepared for an angry Jets squad that led 2-0 t Minnesota heading into the third period before falling 4-2. The Jets have lost two in a row for the first time this season and will want to avoid a third straight defeat.

The Blues don't care. They have to begin building their identity.

"You want to go two in a row and want the victory, but it's taking that process and getting prepared for a hard game," said center Ryan O'Reilly, who had a goal and an assist Friday. "They've got a lot of talent over there and they've worked well together. We need to throw another complete effort together."

- - -

Neither the Blues nor Jets held a morning skate today, so any lineup changes won't be known until this afternoon. 

Berube will address the media at 4:30 and Jets coach Paul Maurice will address Winnipeg's status at 3:30.

Jets forward Andrew Copp went into concussion protocol after Friday's game and may not play tonight. (*confirmed that Copp will not play)

Chad Johnson (Blues) and Laurent Brissoit (Jets) will be the starting goalies after both Jake Allen and Connor Hellebuyck played for their respective teams on Friday.

Allen, who made 26 saves on Friday, didn't face a big amount of high-stress volume of shots in the game, the Blues are playing back-to-back at home and they don't play again until Wednesday.

Oh, and Allen has a 1.22 goals-against average and .942 save percentage his past five starts, so while he's hot, might give Berube some thought to mull this one over.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup:

Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Brayden Schenn-Robert Thomas

David Perron-Tyler Bozak-Pat Maroon

Sammy Blais-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist

Vince Dunn-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester-Jordan Schmaltz

Chad Johnson will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.

The healthy scratch is expected to be Nikita Soshnikov. Jaden Schwartz (hand), Alexander Steen (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) and Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) are all expected to be out.  

- - -

The Jets' projected lineup:

Nikolaj Ehlers-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler

Kyle Connor-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine

Mathieu Perreault-Adam Lowry-Brandon Tanev

Jack Roslovic-Nic Petan-Brendan Lemieux

Josh Morrissey-Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot-Dustin Byfuglien

Joe Morrow-Tyler Myers

Laurent Brossoit will start in goal; Connor Hellebuyck will be the backup.

The healthy scratch will be Sami Niku. Dmitry Kulikov (upper body) and Andrew Copp (concussion) are out.

Blues get physical, play for one another, thump Predators 6-2

Maroon, Schenn set tone with early-game fights; six different goal 
scorers help end three-game losing skid, give Berube first win as coach

ST. LOUIS -- Following a 6-2 statement win against the Nashville Predators, who came in holder's of the most points in the NHL with 33 heading into Friday's games, another blueprint had been established by the Blues.

And Pat Maroon, who set the tone by predictably dropping the gloves with Nashville's Austin Watson two seconds -- or right after the opening puck drop -- into the game in his first game after missing four with an upper-body injury, had the answer Blues fans are looking for and want to see moving forward.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (left) watches as teammate Brayden
Schenn (right) and Nashville's Ryan Hartman get in a first-period fight.

"We should be this team that played tonight," Maroon said. "This is what we should do every single night. There's no reason why we can't do that every night, controlling the puck, playing good defensively, closing hard, physical, going to the net, being a frustrating team to play against. I think when you finish your checks on the forecheck, it gets exhausting for D-men. It gets exhausting that they have to go back and do it again and do it again. It makes it easier for our defense moving the puck. They play an easy game back there when we're doing that kind of stuff, doing the right things and chipping in and playing for each to other. This is the team we’re supposed to be every night and hopefully we can carry that into tomorrow."

The Blues (8-10-3), who snapped a three-game losing streak, have been down this road before. A 4-1 win at Toronto on Oct. 20 was supposed to fuel the fire and propel them to greater heights. A 4-0 shutout was supposed to be another statement win against San Jose here on home ice Nov. 9 was supposed to right the ship again. And a 4-1 win at Vegas on Nov. 16 was supposed to once and for all, turn a downward trend up again. But what it all amounted to this past Monday was Mike Yeo getting fired in an effort to jumpstart a team that was not supposed to be laboring near the bottom of the standings. 

But after losing in interim coach Craig Berube's first game behind the bench Wednesday, 4-1 in Nashville, a game in which the Blues did show passion and fight for one another but netted a familiar result, Friday was different for obvious reasons.

Maroon and Brayden Schenn, who followed up Maroon's fight and dropped the gloves himself with Ryan Hartman, certainly fired up their teammates and fired up the 16,192 at Enterprise Center watching. It wasn't just the fights, but it was Alex Pietrangelo drilling Predators center Kyle Turris with a clean check. 

Remember this Blues team, which finished with 29 hits Friday? The one that played with an edge?

"You should have heard our bench," Schenn said. "A lot of emotion on our bench. It got us going. I think the last game, we played hard, we were physical, obviously the fights weren't involved in the game, but it was a hard game, guys were engaged emotionally and I think we carried that over tonight."

Maroon set the table for his fight with Watson, and it didn't take much prodding to engage.

"Oh I don’t know. I thought about it after he was running around and hit 'Dunner' [Vince Dunn on Wednesday]," Maroon said. "If I had the opportunity, I was going to take advantage of it. Hopefully it got the guys going. It’s kind of a way to get me engaged in the game … It was a good fight. He respected it, so it went well.

"I think he knew it was coming. Watson is hard player, plays the game hard so he knew. So you kind of respect guys like that. He did a really good job of standing up for himself. I’m just trying to go out there and do my job."

And then it was Schenn's turn to one-up his teammate.

"I don't know about one-upping him but trying to keep the emotion going," Schenn said after finishing with his second Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

He also did something similar in a game last season with Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog at opening puck drop which the Blues went on to win 6-1. "I felt it's always part of my game," Schenn said. "Getting in fights been 16 or 17 games or whatever it's been now, it's good to get in one, it gets you involved in the game. It gets you involved emotionally."

The Blues were emotionally invested, playing for one another, and got that proverbial 60-minute game they speak of after every game, notably losses when they often mention how they didn't play for 60 minutes.

Ryan O'Reilly, Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo each had a goal and an assist, and Jake Allen made 26 saves to give Berube his first win.

"We're obviously happy to get a win," said Berube, who got the game puck after the win. "That's them. I don't know. Nothing I tell them (about the early-game fights). That's just about being ready. We know it's going to be a hard game. We just played them the other night and a tough game, a physical game, so it might have carried over, I don't know.

(But the fights) create energy and emotion in the game. Guys feed off that for sure."

The Blues fed off it early and often, and it continued throughout.

Ivan Barbashev got things started when he finished Jordan Schmaltz's feed, beating Juuse Saros at 9 minutes 26 seconds into the first for a 1-0 lead. It started when Barbashev intercepted Miikka Salomaki's offensive zone pass that sprung a 2-on-1 than turned into 3-on-1 when Schmaltz joined the rush.

O'Reilly made it 2-0 at 13:09 of the first, finishing off Sammy Blais' pass, but the play started back in the Blues' zone when Pietrangelo broke up a 2-on-1 with Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi. The Blues got to the offensive zone, kept the play alive with Pietrangelo getting it to Blais in the high slot, and he punched it to O'Reilly, who beat Saros in tight.

"I got caught on a change there," O'Reilly said. "One guy came and I just jumped tried to get in the play. It was a great play by 'Blaiser', and we're just trying to get pucks into the net and a nice little tip by him to pick me up. I was trying to get it off."

Nick Bonino cut it to 2-1 when he scored a power-play goal for Nashville on its first shot of the game at 14:12, but Schenn's breakaway goal at 15:09 made it 3-1 when he picked off Frederick Gaudreau's pass in the neutral zone and off to the races he went.

"We've talked about it before," Schenn said. "... This is supposed to be a tough building to play in. I know from first hand playing in here as the opposition, and it just hasn't been that the past year and a half so we're going to keep on establishing that, keep playing hard. Obviously the fights are one thing, but I think everyone was physically engaged tonight, hard to play against and that's the type of hockey team we have to be."

This is when games usually got tricky for the Blues, and against a top team like the Predators (16-6-1), there would be a push after feeling like they were outplayed early. Good teams usually have a good response.

But the Blues made it known that they were not going to play the sit-back game and stay on the hunt, and when Zach Sanford scored 36 seconds into the period to make it 4-1, it was the proper response.

"I think it was good," Sanford said. "It ended up being good timing early in the second period to get that lead up to three goals instead of two. We've seen a couple two-goal leads disappear. To show that we were going to keep coming was really huge for us too."

The Blues made another timely play in the defensive zone to get the puck out when Colton Parayko played it to Vladimir Tarasenko, who was able to get a chip out of the zone under pressure to O'Reilly, whose cross-ice pass sprung Sanford into the zone.

"That was a great pass," Sanford said. "I kind of saw it developing, so I thought I'd stay wide and if there was anybody that was going to get me the puck, it was him."

Robby Fabbri made it 5-1 when he converted Robert Thomas' pass that caromed off Filip Forsberg's skates through Josi and Fabbri was there to slam it into the net and finish Saros' night at 11:53.

Pietrangelo at 14:50 of the third period and Ryan Hartman at 16:13 traded goals for the teams to make it 6-2, but this one as never in doubt, despite the Blues' getting three power-plays in the third period and extending that futility to 24 straight without a goal.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ivan Barbashev (left) celebrates after scoring a first-period goal on Friday
against the Nashville Predators in a 6-2 Blues victory.

But in the end, the Blues scored more goals Friday than they had in their previous five games (five).

It will all go for naught, though, if they can't follow this blueprint up with another one Saturday when Winnipeg, another strong opponent, comes calling.

"I think at times we do our game plan and then we just get away from it," O'Reilly said. "Too inconsistent. I thought we did a much better job tonight of sticking to it. And it's that consistency that we need constantly. There's times when we won't have it. ... And you got to find a way to be more disciplined and consistent and stick to it. And find a way to get out of those times when they made a push."

"We have a plan, have to follow through with it," Schenn said. "Tonight's nice for guys to score goals and get confidence, I think that came from guys playing good defense, guys working hard for one another and being tough to play against."