Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Allen understands Maroon's frustration; Blais apologetic for stick 
infraction; no supplemental discipline for Johnson; Fabbri has no luck

ST. LOUIS -- Another bad loss for the Blues Saturday, 6-1 at Arizona, on the heels of a strong 3-2 overtime win at Colorado brought out the yo-yo effect for the first quarter of the season.

And Blues forward Pat Maroon, being interviewed by Fox Sports Midwest's John Kelly and Bernie Federko after the loss, was very candid in speaking to the state of the team after the game: "We left our teammates out to dry, we're not playing for each other right now," Maroon said. "We're a one-hit wonder. We play an excellent game and then we come back and play a god-awful game."

This is the Blues in a nutshell, and as the days go by and games get fewer and fewer, and with the Blues (9-13-3, 21 points) sitting tied for last in the NHL and Western Conference with the Los Angeles Kings, some raw emotion was finally on display, and it comes as no surprise from others in the room.

"I'm sure there's frustration," Blues goalie Jake Allen said. "That was a bad game for everyone in general. I had to sit there and watch it unfortunately. It was tough to watch. We definitely didn't bring our 'A' game. There's definitely some frustration in that as well. 

"I definitely think you can say that at times (that) we haven't been playing for each other. We haven't been playing good enough individually, take enough pride in yourself and the Bluenote, everything (on) all of the above ... there's not a whole lot to say anymore. We've been struggling for answers, but we've just got to find a way to win."

Every time the Blues seem poised to make a move following a good, solid win against a formidable opponent at the top of the standings, they take two steps back losing to a lesser, weaker opponent. And not only lose, but get blown off the ice doing so to go along with their 1-5-3 record in one-goal games.

But here they are, answering the season-old questions of why they're losing and in the fashion in which way they're doing so.

"No, you wish obviously not, but we are," said Allen, who's actually put up solid numbers in his past and allowed two or fewer goals in six of his past eight starts. "It's unfortunate to be honest. It can't happen anymore. We've said everything you can possibly say in the world. I don't even know what to say anymore to be honest. We've just got to win hockey games. 

"We've got to go back to the Colorado game as a reference and realize how hard it actually is to win in this league now, especially against really good teams. We've got two really good teams this week (Edmonton at home Wednesday and at Winnipeg on Friday) and then carry over to next week and a young team like Vancouver (on Sunday). I think we've just got to go back to that point. Everyone paid a price in that game. I think guys came out of that game sore and tired, but that's the way you've got to win in this league and we can really use that as a reference."

By the time the Blues hit the halfway mark to the season after their January home date with Dallas, the Blues will have played 11 of their next 16 games at Enterprise Center, where they really need to make some headlines if they are to even be in the conversation of getting back into the playoff race.

"What are we, 24-25 games in now? Obviously not the results from top to bottom," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "We're in a situation now where we have to dig in deeper, find ways to win hockey games. Start with one. 

"Again, we've got to find a way to put a streak together. We like what we did in Colorado, came back and gave another tough performance. Let's start with one here against Edmonton and let's build a streak."

But one has to wonder: is this Blues team the one that can go on the road and win at Toronto, Vegas and Colorado and beat Nashville, San Jose and Calgary soundly on home ice or the one that got embarrassed like it did at Arizona and in home losses to WInnipeg and Columbus?

"Yeah, it's easy to say obviously," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "It's one of those things where we've had definitely a lot of really good hockey games throughout the season and we've beat some good teams. Obviously we are a really good team. It's just one of those things where we've got to put in a full 60 each and every night. It's hard to win in this league of you aren't playing a full 60 and if you're not bringing the full game each night. We've got to make sure that we bring a full 60 each night and just give our best. Even if you give your best, you're not going to win 82, but you're going to definitely give yourself a good chance and set yourself up for a good spot."

* Blais apologetic for stick infraction -- Blues winger Sammy Blais saw the post, and as gruesome as Michael Grabner's eye was, it even made Blais cringe at the sight of a serious eye injury.

"I saw the replay after the game and it's just bad luck," Blais said. "I got hooked and then the guy lifted my stick right in his eye."

Blais was in a tight board battle with Arizona's Brad Richardson, when the next thing you know, Blais' stick catches Grabner, coming in to win a puck battle, underneath his visor and directly clipping his right eye.

Grabner, who immediately went down to the ice grabbing his face, was taken off with a towel on his face from the bleeding and taken to an area hospital. He posted on his Instagram account Sunday the aftermath.

"The guy [Richardson] lifted my stick, so it's not really my fault," Blais said. "It was a bad luck play. I texted him and he was doing better so hopefully he'll be back on the ice.

"I knew my stick had touched something but I didn't know it was that high. He's doing better now, so that's the main point. I was happy for him. ... I texted him and he said he was going better. Hopefully he'll be back soon on the ice."

* Johnson gets no supplemental discipline -- Former Blues defenseman and No. 1 overall pick, Erik Johnson, got off without suspension for his check to the head of the Blues' Alexander Steen in the second period Friday.

Steen, who moments before shooting the puck and taking the brunt of Johnson's check, had made a strong check of his own on Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon, dislodging the puck from the Avalanche center.

Johnson received a five-minute elbowing major and a game-misconduct for the infraction at 3:38 of the second. Steen, who was playing in his second game after missing the previous six with a head injury, left the game and did not return and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong on Monday said it was concussion-related and Steen is day to day.

"It seemed a little bit late to me, but it wasn't really ... he kept his arm and shoulder close to his body," Armstrong said of Johnson. "It was a borderline one that I'm sure the league took a look at, but it didn't jump off the page at me as an illegal ... it was a hit to the head, but through the core of the body. I'm sure that's what the league felt too or they would have suspended him if they thought he picked his head."

* Replacing the captain's minutes -- Taking an injury hit and losing Alex Pietrangelo, Robby Fabbri and Steen all at once is a tough pill for the Blues to swallow at once, and it's going to take others to supplement those voids left. But in reality, how does a defensive unit go about in replacing the team-leading 24:37 average time on ice Pietrangelo leaves behind? The ones that include even-strength minutes, power play and shorthanded situations. 

"He brings a lot to us," Parayko said of Pietrangelo. "He'll play all situations on the ice. Obviously our leader back there. It's one of those things where you've just got to be excited if you're a defenseman in the lineup to come to the game and be prepared and take on a role, a bigger role that you're already in, just embrace it and take it head on and make sure you do the best of your ability. Just do your job and help the team as much as possible."

Parayko, who is second among defensemen at 22:06, is the likely candidate to grab some of those minutes.

"For sure. I think whatever the case may be, I think that we've got the group that's able and capable of stepping in, throughout our whole defensive core, all six of us that play each night," Parayko said. "I think we're all capable of playing extra minutes and playing different situations. That's the beauty of it. We have a very good defensive core. We've jut got to come and continue to do our thing and make sure that we do our thing and our part back there to help out the forwards and help out the team and obviously the goaltender win games."

* No luck for Fabbri -- Blues forward Robby Fabbri, who made his return this season after missing nearly two seasons with two torn ACL injuries to his left knee and the first 10 games of this season with a sore back, hip and groin, was just getting into a rhythm before separating his shoulder late in the first period Saturday.

Fabbri, who has two goals and two assists in 15 games, has missed 122 of the past 137 regular-season games and now is sidelined at least through Christmas.

"It's tough. He's had a tough run here. We do feel for him," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "He had good jump. He had a lot of scoring opportunities. They just didn't go in. He had a lot of good looks, it looks like he had a lot of good energy every game and he was excited to be back playing for sure."

* Reinforcements arrive from San Antonio -- With the Blues putting Pietrangelo, Fabbri and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) on injured reserve Monday (Gunnarsson retroactive to Nov. 17), the Blues recalled forwards Jordan Nolan and Jordan Kyrou and defenseman Chris Butler from San Antonio of the American Hockey League.

"They all played in the NHL," Berube said. "Kyrou has played the least amount of games in the NHL, but the other two guys are veteran guys who have had time in the NHL. I expect them to come up and be ready to go."

Nolan, a veteran winger signed as a free agent after playing with Buffalo last season, was leading the Rampage with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 24 games.

"He is what he is," Berube said. "Competitive guy, he knows how to play the game, he's played on a Stanley Cup champion (with the Kings twice in 2013 and 2015), he plays hard, physical. An up and down fourth line winger."

Kyrou, who played nine games with the Blues after making it out of training camp, has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 14 games. He had one assist with the Blues.

"He's been playing pretty well lately," Berube said. "Getting some points and some goals. He's got great speed and puck skills."

Butler will make his second stint in St. Louis this season. He had 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 23 games with the Rampage this season after playing in two games (one goal) with the Blues in October.

"'Buttsie's been around a long time, I coached him in the minors, he was our captain," Berube said. "He was a fantastic defenseman down there."

All three were expected to arrive in St. Louis Monday and be on the ice Tuesday.

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