Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Blues split lineup around in hopes of breaking slide

Forwards, defenseman will get fresh look for game against 
San Jose Thursday, including O'Reilly, Perron back together

ST. LOUIS -- It's been known coaches tend to go to the blender when line combos and d-pairings are broken up.

Craig Berube went full blender Wednesday at practice.

The Blues coach shuffled up each of his forward lines and each of his defensive pairs trying to shake the Blues (8-5-2) from their four-game winless slide, going 0-3-1 and on the heels of a poor performance in a 3-2 loss against the Arizona Coyotes on home ice Tuesday.

Here's how they lined up on the Enterprise Center ice after the Blues took team photos for their Winter Classic prep in the jerseys they'll wear on New Year's Day:

Jordan Kyrou-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Brandon Saad-Oskar Sundqvist-Ivan Barbashev

Klim Kostin-Tyler Bozak-James Neal

Torey Krug-Colton Parayko

Scott Perunovich-Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo

* Niko Mikkola-Jake Walman was the extra pair.

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

* Brayden Schenn (upper body injury) did not practice with the team Wednesday.

Berube said for the Blues, who close a three-game homestand Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, "It's just about dialing in on the little things that are going on, getting back to that team-first mindset that we had I thought that going into camp and through camp and out of camp, we had a real good start. I thought there was a real good team concept and guys were doing a lot of little things for each other out there and I've just found that it's slipped a little bit. But when you're losing some games too where you think you should have won maybe and you played pretty well but you didn't find yourself on the winning side of things. It's adversity and you've got to deal with it and I think we didn't do a good enough job of it last night dealing with it. We just kind of went through the motions in the game.

"We got some good players back in the lineup last night and I thought they both (Krug and Sundqvist) played well."

Berube's thoughts on the Saad-Sundqvist-Barbashev line, "I was thinking about things and I wanted to put an identity line together and to me, that's an identity line. It's a line that's going to do the right things, forecheck hard, play hard, be physical, hard on the other team, play against anybody. I thought they were good in practice today too."

As for O'Reilly and Perron back together, that match seemed inevitable, and with O'Reilly looking like himself again Tuesday, Berube said, "He had a great game last night. He could have had two goals and he got two assists in the game. He could have had a four-point night. He's just not scoring. He's been getting opportunities, hit a post, he hit a post a couple games ago too I believe, but the looks are there, his work ethic was outstanding last night, I thought he led by example."

Perron hasn't scored in 10 games (has four assists) after five in six games to start the season.

"We've got to get David going too. David's got to get himself going," Berube said. "He's got to work, he's got to dig in and work, compete and that's his game. He can't be waiting for things to happen. He's got to go earn them."

Is Perron getting enough scoring opportunities? 

"He's getting some, not enough. Not enough," Berube said. "He needs to get more."

Not only Perron, but the Blues, after averaging 4.7 goals per game through their first six games, are finding scoring tougher to come by in the past nine, scoring just 2.4 per game.

"One of the things is finishing, scoring," Berube said. "We get chances. I think in the game, we get a number of good, quality  chances, but chances are chances and they're important. 

"You want to out-chance the other team and I think we've done a good job of that this year, but the other side of it lately, we haven't found the back of the net enough. On the other side of it, we need to do a better job of our special teams have slipped a little bit, so the PK's got to be better and the power play's got to produce for us and just the team game, all-around team game. I think when things aren't going great, you've go to rely on your teammates and you've got to rely on your team game."

On the defensive side, the Blues tried the Krug-Parayko pair to begin last season, but Parayko just wasn't himself with the back issues, and with his recent play with Scandella and the two of them having a tough go of it, this is something they'll look at with Krug playing well.

"Puck mover with a defender, a big defender and that's basically kind of how I got the D paired up right now," Berube said.

Scandella was paired with Robert Bortuzzo and the intriguing pair of Perunovich-Faulk will be worth watching.

"Definitely. I think that Faulk really wants the kid to do well personally," Berube said. "He has a personal side to him. Last night when they were together, they did a good job, played well together."

No comments:

Post a Comment