Friday, February 8, 2019


Perron ruled out for Saturday, possible for Sunday; Blues want to keep 
winning streak going; where did Gloria originate from for postgame song?

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues had 13 skaters on the ice Friday during an optional skate after a successful three-game, Eastern Conference trip, of which, the last two came with what is turning into an annual dads trip.

Among the 13 skaters was David Perron, who has missed the past six games and three weeks with an upper-body injury, believed to be concussion-related.

However, Perron, who was on a career-best 13-game point streak when he departed the lineup, will not be available when the Blues (25-22-5) play the first of a home-and-home, back-to-back set at Enterprise Center against the Nashville Predators (33-19-4) Saturday at 1 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) but wasn't ruled out for the return matchup Sunday at Bridgestone Arena (11:30 a.m.; NBC, KMOX 1120-AM).

"He's actually getting better," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said of Perron. "He's not available for tomorrow, but he's getting better and he's improving and hopefully soon."

As in Sunday soon?

"I wouldn't count that out," Berube said.

Perron has 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 45 games this season, which includes 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) the past 13 games.

* Blues on fire -- The Blues moved into the second wild card after Thursday's 1-0 overtime win at Tampa Bay, quite the feat after they began the 2019 calendar year 10 points out and at one point, sitting in last place overall in the NHL.

Their four-game winning streak is the longest of the season and their 8-2-1 run the past 11 games, in which they've allowed two or fewer goals in nine of 11 games, has vaulted the Blues into the wildcard and looking for more.

"We're playing hockey now as good as we expected than at the start of the year," said Blues forward Brayden Schenn, who scored the OT winner Thursday. "Guys are playing together, playing for one another. You see what happens when you do that. Climbing back in it, obviously getting great goaltending, everyone's playing together right now and that's what you need."

"We've found our groove here a little bit," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "It's kind of what we expected from the beginning of the season, but now we're here. I think we're in a good spot. We've found our stride and it's good."

That great goaltending Schenn spoke of has come from rookie Jordan Binnington, whose remarkable run has seen him go 8-1-1 with a 1.49 goals-against average, a .940 save percentage and two shutouts in his 10 NHL starts.

"He's been impressive," Parayko said of Binnington. "It's outstanding to see. He's got great character, a great friend obviously. Just a great teammate overall. It's cool to see and we're all excited for him obviously. We're looking forward to moving on and keep going on with what's been going on.

"He's doing his part back there. He's keeping us in the games, every single game he's played. That's huge obviously giving us a chance to win. It's key. He's been spectacular and it's been fun to watch."

Binnington is likely to get the start Saturday against the Predators, and Jake Allen, who was on the ice Friday, has a good chance of starting Sunday's return matchup in Nashville. It would be Allen's first game 24 days.

* Gloria -- After each of the past two Blues wins, Tuesday at Florida (3-2) and Thursday at Tampa (1-0 in OT), the Blues have entered the locker room to music, usually something modern or of recent time, but after these games, Laura Branigan's 'Gloria' has been the tune of choice.

The 1982 hit has become the topic of conversation among Blues fans, who want to know where it originated from and how it came to this.

Maybe it was a tribute to the fathers on the trip, but that has nothing to do with it.

"I don't know the story behind it, but I think it started in Philadelphia," Schenn said of the Blues' game there on Jan. 7. "There were a few guys watching the Eagles game (on Jan. 6). I don't know what the story is there, but I think 'Steener' [Alexander Steen] might have came up with that one."

Will it stick, now that it seems to work?

"I guess so," Schenn said. "Might as well, right?"

Stay tuned.

* Top line rolling -- Schenn and linemates Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko have been a force since Berube put the two of them together at Anaheim on Jan. 23.

In the four games since being assembled, they have combined for 16 points (five goals, 11 assists).

Schenn has a four-game point streak (one goal, five assists), Tarasenko has a six-game point streak (three goals, five assists) and 13 points (six goals, seven assists) the past 11 games and O'Reilly had his eight-game point streak end Thursday, but he has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) the past nine games, 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) the past 18 games and has points in 15 of those 18.

"I think just working for one another," Schenn said. "Vladi's a shooter and he's working real hard right now and 'O'Ry', he just makes it easy on you out there. He's good in both ends of the ice, a communicator, wins all his battles, good on the faceoff dot. Both guys are fun to play with."

When Perron returns, it's hard to imagine Berube breaking that trip up even though Perron had some great chemistry with O'Reilly.

"Schenn and O'Ry really work the puck down low grinding," Berube said. "Schenn's been physical on that line and getting on the forecheck, creating loose pucks. Vladi's been in a good position to shoot pucks and attack the net. Vladi's been at the net a lot, which is important but all three of them are really working well without the puck. When you work hard without the puck, you get pucks back and you create offense that way and that's what they're doing."

* Parayko on top of his game -- Parayko has always had this aura about his game that could blossom at any time, and Blues fans have waited to see him at his best.

Now might be a good time to take a gander at Parayko, who has tied his career-high with nine goals when he scored Tuesday at Florida, but his overall game has been as good as it's ever been in this, his fourth NHL season.

"I'm just trying to continue to get better and improve throughout the season," Parayko said. "That's just the way hockey is. It's kind of funny. Sometimes you feel like you're getting the bounces, sometimes you feel like bounces might be going against you and things like that. It's one of those things where you want to continue to push forward and try to limit anything bad against.

"I think it's as a whole team as well. There's lots of improvements still to be done and I notice that, but I also notice the good things as well. I think on both sides there,s good, there's bad for me and I want to make sure I clean up the bad and keep up with the good. I just think as a whole with our team right now, it's a confident group. It's fun right now for us. Obviously when you're winning, it's a lot better. That's what we'll continue to do."

Parayko, who is second on the Blues in average ice time at 22 minutes, 41 seconds behind Alex Pietrangelo's 23:52, has been paired with Jay Bouwmeester and the duo have been playing exremely well.

"He's played well a lot, but defensively, he's been really sound and solid," Berube said of Parayko. "Him and Bouwmeester have been really solid for a long time. Colton has the ability to score goals with his shot."

* Gunnarsson update -- Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson is doubtful for Saturday, which means he will miss a second straight game with an upper-body injury.

Gunnarsson played Tuesday at Florida but is dealing with the injury bug again.

"He's being looked at right now," Berube said. "We'll know more later on today.

"He's doubtful for tomorrow, but he's played really well when he's gone in there. It's unfortunate, but we'll see what the doc says."

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