By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have a chance at more history when they close out a five-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Blues not only can sweep a homestand of at least five games for the first time in franchise history, they can win their 10th straight on home ice, which would also be a franchise record previously set Jan. 26-Feb. 26, 1991.
The Blues have the most wins in the NHL on home ice (17) and continue to thrive here in ways they haven't done so with authority since the 2011-12 season when they went 30-6-1, and even then, they weren't able to accomplish such feats as they have in front of them tonight.
"We’re just trying to win another game at home," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "We’ve played well at home for quite some time now. It’s our last home game before the break.
"We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing. It doesn’t really change. We’ve been playing really good 200-foot hockey and defensively we’ve been solid at home and I think the north-south game at home, before we were playing too much of an east-west game at home compared to the road, but I think that’s changed and we’ve played the north-south game at home and a more direct game at home and the result of it is we’ve had more wins."
The Blues (30-10-7), who have outscored their opponents 36-15 during their nine-game home streak, will want to keep forging on with two games remaining heading into their bye week and subsequent All-Star break.
As if a reminder needs to be given, they're doing this without leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko and top defenseman Colton Parayko, who will miss his sixth straight game tonight.
"It's just a team mentality," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "We rely on everyone, rely on four lines. Whoever's going well that night is doing the job for us. We know that's a lot of goals missing in the lineup with Tarasenko scoring at least 30 a year. Other guys have to step up and they have. Everyone's chipping in."
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Speaking of Schenn, it was June 23, 2017 when the trade with the Flyers was consummated, on draft night in Chicago to be exact when the Blues acquired Schenn from the Flyers for two first-round picks in 2017 and 2018, in which the Flyers drafted Morgan Frost with the 27th pick in 2017 and Joel Farabee with the 14th pick in 2018 along with Jori Lehtera.
Needless to say, things have worked out tremendously for Schenn, who got the top-line role here that he was seeking in Philadelphia, won a Stanley Cup and signed an eight-year, $52 million extension during training camp.
"I'm very happy here," Schenn said. "Very happy to be part of this organization. I think what they've built in this room with the culture, whether it's guys like Steener or Petro or Vladi or the list of guys that have been here for a long time, they've built a heck of a culture here and winning culture. It's fun to be part of.
"Yeozy [former Blues coach and current Flyers assistant Mike Yeo] gave me the opportunity since Day 1 to try and be a top player here for St. Louis and put me with good players. Very thankful for that and very thankful for the opportunity I've been given since Day 1 here."
So does it mean something to face the former teammates?
"There's meaning, no doubt about it," Schenn said. "It's always fun playing friends and former teammates, but it's been three years now and I enjoy playing in St. Louis. I don't really think about Philadelphia too much anymore. ... I don't really worry about the trade and stuff like that too much anymore. A lot of guys get traded throughout their career and I happened to be a part of that one."
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Blues defenseman Vince Dunn has been one to be impacted quite a bit, along with rookie Niko Mikkola, in the absence of Parayko.
Dunn has been thrust up in a role with Alex Pietrangelo, and naturally he will get more ice time and more responsibilities, but what it did was allow Dunn, who's played 18:53, 21:35, 19:06, 17:12 and 20:03 in the games Parayko has missed.
"He’s been a good player, I feel, because he’s taken a physical approach," Berube said of Dunn. "We talked to him about that, being more physical and getting involved physically and he’s done that. He’s the type of guy, if he can play with that edge a little bit, he becomes a better player. I found that since the injury to Parayko and his movement up there, his game has elevated, and that’s a big part of it, being more direct, more physical."
Dunn has a goal and is a plus-3 in the five games since Parayko has been out of the lineup. Focusing on balancing his offense and defense has been a priority, especially on the defensive side of it.
"In saying that, it’s being more aggressive and more physical," Berube said. "He's done that and he’s done a good job there and they’ve been a good pair.
"It’s the conversations we’ve had with him. When he does play like that, he’s a better player and he just has to find more consistency in doing it all the time. That’s all. Nothing more than that."
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A couple of former Blues will be in the Flyers lineup tonight with goalie Brian Elliott, who holds the franchise record with the Blues for shutouts with 25, and forward Chris Stewart, who was coincidentally placed on waivers but will be in the lineup since the Flyers had to load Farabee to Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League to recall goalie Alex Lyon, who comes in under emergency conditions since Carter Hart sustained an abdominal strain in practice Tuesday.
Stewart, who spent four seasons here from 2010-14, cheered for many of his former Blues teammates last summer en route to winning the Cup.
"I still got a lot of good friends on that team," Stewart said. "I think I put something on Twitter how this is a great city, a great place to play and a lot of people behind the scenes who deserve the recognition. I was happy to see that they got their chance to raise the Cup and I was proud of them."
Stewart was teammates with Pietrangelo, Jake Allen, Jaden Schwartz, Jay Bouwmeester, Alexander Steen, David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko.
"I was watching every game," Stewart said. "It's the best hockey of the year and the most exciting time and that's what you dream about is winning. It was good to see them get it.
"I was at [Kevin] Shattenkirk's wedding and there was probably 13 (former Blues teammates) there. It's a tight-knit group over there and I'm happy for them."
After a year out of the NHL, Stewart has found himself back in the league with the Flyers after a professional tryout. He has one assist in 15 games.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Oskar Sundqvist
Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron
Alexander Steen-Robert Thomas-Tyler Bozak
Mackenzie MacEachern-Jacob de la Rose-Ivan Barbashev
Vince Dunn-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo
Jordan Binnington will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Carl Gunnarsson, Troy Brouwer and Jordan Kyrou. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Colton Parayko (upper body) and Sammy Blais (wrist) are out.
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The Flyers' projected lineup:
Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyler Pitlick-Connor Bunnaman-Chris Stewart
Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Mark Friedman
Brian Elliott will start in goal; Alex Lyon will be the backup.
The Flyers report no healthy scratches. Carter Hart (abdominal strain), Nolan Patrick (migraine), Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma), Justin Braun (groin) and Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) are out.
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