Sunday, March 21, 2021

When O'Reilly's line is driving success, Blues are usually on the winning end like Saturday's 5-2 win at San Jose

Line with Perron, Kyrou combined for 11 points, were leading 
force in helping Blues win back-to-back games against Sharks

When the going's not good, Ryan O'Reilly will be the first to step to the mic and admit he needs to be better and do more for the betterment of the team.

That's become pretty common with the Blues when he speaks after losses. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan O'Reilly (right) and David Perron (57) get congratulated by the Blues
bench after O'Reilly scored in a 5-2 win at San Jose Saturday.

But those days when the dominance is there, when everything you do is spot on and on the money and makes the impact for a team win, nothing feels better.

For O'Reilly and linemates David Perron and Jordan Kyrou, the numbers speak for themselves, but when you have the ability to control, dictate and take over like that line did in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday, there's no better feeling.

And the things that line did, aside from combining for 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the game, were exactly what the Blues (16-10-5) needed on the second of back-to-back nights and without three forwards that played in Friday's 2-1 shootout win, including Oskar Sundqvist, who is lost for the season with a torn left ACL; Tyler Bozak, who was a late scratch with an upper-body injury, and Zach Sanford, who was put on the league's COVID-19 protocol list and was unavailable.

"Yesterday, I think we were a little frustrated; we didn't kind of create enough," said O'Reilly after picking up a goal and three assists along with Perron. "I know for myself the last few games, I have not been creating enough offensively. I think we just had a mindset. You could see we were just coming into the zone and we had a certain, hunger, we were stripping pucks, we were putting them in the areas and created some really dangerous chances. After getting on the board earlier, you could tell we just had a bit more confidence. We just kept working and got some huge goals for us tonight. It's nice to contribute. We have to keep stepping up in times, especially as we get into these really crucial games."

When the O'Reilly line is peaking, it's usually controlling the tempo, playing in the other team's end, and when it has to defend, it smothers one of, if not, the top line on the opposition, which it did to Logan Couture, Evander Kane and Kevin Labanc, which combined for no points and a minus-8.

"We talked about getting on their defense tonight and having good sticks and forcing them to make turnovers, and that's what they did," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "They forced the Sharks into bad situations and they were competitive and tenacious on the puck and they ended up being rewarded with three goals, I think."

Kyrou was the beneficiary of net-front presence, something that the coaching staff is trying to instill into his game to go with his speed and finesse.

He drove the net and put home an O'Reilly feed from behind the net by getting to the blue paint in front of Devan Dubnyk to give the Blues a 2-1 first-period lead, then put the icing on the cake in the third period by driving the net again and gaining inside position on Ryan Donato before knocking in Torey Krug's backdoor feed and a 4-2 lead.

"I thought the last couple games, he's been way better, more competitive, skating better and attacking, doing the things he was doing before," Berube said of Kyrou. "It's all based on his feet. When he's skating and attacking, he's a dangerous player. He's doing a good job around the net too. He's getting to the net more."

Of his goals, Kyrou, who had two goals and an assist, said, "I guess try to get in the dirty areas a bit more, try to battle a little bit more in front of the net. Goals come in all sorts of ways. It was good to get those two.

"I think we were just playing our team game the way we want to play. We want to be aggressive, always on the puck. One big thing for us too is always try and reload and create those turnovers for us so we can go get the puck and go back the other way."

It's easy to see when O'Reilly's line dictates, it makes those on the ice perform better.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan O'Reilly (second from right) tries to defend San Jose's Kevin
Labanc on a wrap shot that goalie Ville Husso saved on Saturday. 

"I think obviously O'Ry is so good on the draws, you get a quick start to going offensively," defenseman Vince Dunn said. "(Perron) and O'Ry are so strong on the puck, it gives other players time to find space and they can make high-end plays and then you have Kyrou flying up and down the ice. The threat of those three, they're all great shooters, they're all great playmakers. It's a threat no matter who has the puck. I thought they id a great job on the forecheck tonight. Obviously you saw the goal there to Kyrou in the slot. It's all about being in the right spot systematically and I think that really get the going and the other lines feed off of that."

Part of those other lines are those that were put in at the last moment to replace Sundqvist, Bozak and Sanford. That included Jacob de la Rose, Nathan Walker and Dakota Joshua.

"I think that's just this year in general just kind of sums it up," O'Reilly said. "You never know what's going to happen. We wake up in the morning and you hear Sanny's not playing and then we arrive at the rink and we find out about Sunny and it's terrible news and then Bozie obviously ... it's unfortunate, but I thought we did a great job. Guys coming in the lineup played outstanding. They were physical, brought energy. We got great depth and it showed tonight with the way those guys played. It's just like this season. You've got to be on your toes and you never know what's going to happen and you've just got to be ready to come and compete."

No comments:

Post a Comment