Monday, March 4, 2019


Schenn, Perron both skate again, one expected to make trip, one doubtful; 
d-men pitching in on offense; MacEachern lesson learned; Blais to stick around

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It was another day on the ice for two of the Blues' top six forwards, David Perron and Brayden Schenn, and while things look good on the surface, there's still no definitive time when to expect them back.

The Blues took an optional, albeit a highly populated one, on Monday at the Ice Zone and it looks as if Schenn will accompany the Blues on their three-game California swing to Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. Perron, on the other hand, although Berube said was still up in the air, has little to no chance of going.

"Perron's still the same, Schenn's making good progress," Berube said. "I think Perron's still up in the air about (traveling), but the other guy's not."

Perron has missed the past 19 games with what is believed to be concussion-like symptoms, and Schenn has missed six games with the same ailment.

Perron, who was on a 13-game point streak when he last played Jan. 17 at Boston, has been skating regularly with teammates as well as on his own when the team has been on the road, and Schenn has been a regular participant in skates as well. But with concussions, there's no predicting what will or will not happen.

"I like that he's skating with us, with the group anyhow," Berube said of Perron. "I think that's important, it's important that he's around the guys and not getting totally lost. A lot of times when you're injured and you're out on the outside and you're never around your teammates, that's not good. I think that's good that he's skating with us. Hopefully he decides that he's going to come on the road and he gets more practice time, just keep going, and when he feels like he's ready to go, it will be good. I can't answer when he's going to be ready to go.

"It's up to him."

Asked the obvious as to when Schenn returns, if he'll go back to the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko after the trio had 45 points in 11 games together, Berube joked, "I'll tell you what, if you come to warmup on the day of the game, you'll find out."

Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, out with a wrist injury, has missed the past 14 games but was also a regular participant on the ice Monday. He is not expected back for a couple weeks and probably won't accompany the team on the road.

* Offense from defense -- The Blues' scoring issues the past six games (nine actual goals) has certainly been noticed, but in order to pitch in, the defensemen are doing all they can to help the offense.

Going back to the beginning of February, Blues defensemen have scored in 12 of the past 16 games, and Vince Dunn, who had his third multi-point game of the season in the loss at Carolina Friday, isn't surprised.

"At the beginning of the year, we were more spread out," Dunn said. "Now that we're a little more connected, I'm finding holes for myself. It's not just our first line that's making plays, it's top to bottom. Everyone's kind of contributing and doing their own thing.

"Our D are definitely capable of creating offense, but it's kind of not finding our way right now as a whole. We're struggling and I think it's just maybe we're not working hard enough or maybe not doing the little things right or maybe complicating things a little bit when we shouldn't be. Maybe just simplifying, not passing up shots that maybe we might not think go in right away. Maybe cause chaos in front of the net for someone to tap it in. I think right now, we've just got to simplify it, get back to our basics and when we get back to our detail, we've been a little spread out, but if we get back together here and work as a five-man picture, we'll be able to buy more goals."

The loss against Dallas was a prime example of hesitation in shots from the point from the blue liners that could have created more loose pucks in and around Ben Bishop.

"When things were going really well for us, there were goals that didn't look like they were going to go in but found their way in whether it was a deflection or just a loose puck just sitting in the goalie's pads," Dunn said. "I think we've got to go back to that, get a little bit more hungrier in the offensive zone and not just look for the pretty plays. Obviously our shot totals haven't been there either. When our shot totals and our totals then our goal totals should go up too."

* MacEachern sorry but not sorry -- The only regret rookie Mackenzie MacEachern had with the penalty that he took that led to Dallas' third goal Saturday was that they scored on it, not for the roughing minor he took sticking up for his goalie.

MacEachern was assessed a roughing minor late in the second with the Blues down 2-1, not long after Alex Pietrangelo's momentum-shifting goal that gave the Blues life. 

MacEachern took exception to Blake Comeau taking a few extra pokes at the puck and goalie Jordan Binnington not long after Pat Maroon received the rough treatment by a trio of Stars defending their goalie with no penalties called.

"They were kind of going at it, I think, a couple minutes before at the other side," MacEachern said. "They didn't call anyone on that, so I just saw him go after 'Binner' a bit and first instinct was to stick up for 'Binner', and I think I might have taken it a little too far unfortunately. Part of the game, I learn from that, I don't take it too far and I go from there.

"I didn't want him to get a few pokes at 'Binner', so I just kind of took exception to that. Maybe I stepped a little over the line there. I just have to learn from that and how far I can go."

Jamie Benn, who tallied his fifth NHL hat trick by getting his second of the night on the ensuing power play, made it 3-1 and zapped the momentum right back. But if teammates would tell him as well as the coaches, they have no issue with what MacEachern did.

"That kind of took the wind out of my sails skating back to the bench after that one," MacEachern said. "I don't want to change my game because of that. I want to be a hard-nosed player as much as I can. I don't want to get too down on it, but definitely a learning moment there.

"I don't really think we've had the chance to talk (with the coaches). I'd like to see what their thoughts are, if I took it too far, if I stepped over the line there. I definitely will probably ask that in the next day or so."

* Blais taking up residence in St. Louis ... for now -- The San Antonio Express shuttle for Sammy Blais has been put on hold for the time being.

Getting recalled and sent back and forth between St. Louis and San Antonio, or whatever road city the Rampage were at the present time, has Blais on speed dial for the Blues, especially in the past couple weeks.

But after being called up for the second time under emergency conditions Saturday morning that was eventually changed to a regular call-up, Blais is sticking around -- at least for now.

"He's coming on the road trip with us," Berube said.

The rest of the season remains to be seen.

"We'll see how it goes and see how he plays," Berube said. "We have extra guys so we want to use guys and get certain, different lineups in on a nightly basis. There will be some guys in and out of the lineup, but he's going to get his opportunity. He's done a good job since he's been up here. It's not been easy for him with travel and up and down, but we like his energy when he comes in. He's physical. He's got good puck skills. He;s done it in the minors with scoring and making plays. He's actually done some good stick things with the puck."

* Prepping for Ducks -- After a day off Sunday, followed by an optional on Monday, the Blues will go with the full group Tuesday before heading west.

The idea initially was to have a full practice on Monday to get in some much-needed work in certain areas but coaches changed their minds to give a couple guys a few extra days away from the ice.

"The rest is really important, get the energy back and bumps and bruises this time of year," Berube said. "A lot of hockey. It's a day off, some guys two days off. Not totally off, but I think the day off yesterday being away from the rink was good and then today coming here, we had a good meeting this morning, some good video and then some guys didn't go on the ice but they were in the gym doing stuff."

The Blues have split with the Ducks, winning the lats encounter, 5-1 in Anaheim, on Jan. 23 that began a franchise-record 11-game winning streak.

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