Thursday, January 13, 2022

Blues keep finding ways to win, run home point streak to 13 with 2-1 win over Kraken

Missing Tarasenko, Schenn, Perron, Parayko, Perunovich, Blues keep plugging 
along, persevering with no excuses, move to 12-0-1 last 13 at Enterprise Center

ST. LOUIS -- It's not always pretty, it's not always a work of art, but the Blues just simply find a way.

It's called resiliency, it's called togetherness, it's called team mindset.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues goalie Ville Husso (35) makes a left toe save on Seattle's Joonas
Donskoi in the second period of a 2-1 Blues win on Thursday.

The Blues have it, and needed every bit of it playing severely shorthanded on Thursday against the expansion Seattle Kraken, who came in losers of seven in a row.

Doesn't matter in the NHL, though. Anyone can beat anybody on any given night, and the very game and sound Kraken gave the Blues all they had before the Blues found a way in the third period for the second straight game, winning 2-1 behind the strong effort of Ville Husso in goal and third-period goals by Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich.

The Blues (22-10-5), who extended their home point streak to 13 (12-0-1), which is the third-best in franchise history, were given all they had by the Kraken, who fell to 10-22-4 overall and 0-7-1 in their past eight. 

The Blues were once again really playing short, missing forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and David Perron along with defenseman Colton Parayko and Scott Perunovich because of COVID-19 protocol. And to top it all off, Logan Brown was a late scratch with a non-COVID related illness, and so they had to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

That's 94 points (34 goals, 60 assists) missing from their lineup. They still had plenty of firepower, but that's one heck of a chunk of production missing from the lineup, and with Parayko, that's an anchor on defense that was among the NHL leaders in average ice time at 24:10.

In their place, the Blues pulled up James Neal, who was waived on Jan. 2, along with Nathan Walker and Calle Rosen from the taxi squad. Jake Walman also jumped into the lineup for the first time since Dec. 29 after being removed from COVID protocol.

But the Blues have been used to this, right? Guys in and out of protocol, a plethora of injuries, something that's not an issue -- right now -- knock on wood. But the plug-and-play mindset has worked to a tee. Guys just go in, accept the role they're given and implement a game plan that finds a way in the end.

"We were missing a lot of guys and all the guys who came in, 'Nealer', Walker, 'Rosy', it's not easy to come in and play," said Husso after improving to 7-0-0 in his past eight home starts with a 1.38 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. "They played well. 

"Every game, we just need to focus for our own game and we knew like today, after the second period that we'll come back and even though in the second period we had like four power plays for us, the guys are playing hard and making plays there. We knew all the time that we'll win."

Forget the pity party. The Blues aren't looking for it. They're not looking for excuses. They knew they were in a dogfight, just like they were against the Dallas Stars on Sunday when they trailed 1-0 in the third before rallying for a 2-1 win with two goals in the final minute of regulation.

Just find a way. That's all that matters. 

"We’re a pretty resilient group even when we’re down going into the third," Thomas said. "We’re pretty confident and we start to push our game in the second. I think the key is getting off to a good start so we don’t have to chase from behind. Pretty special group that fights back and our special teams coming up with big goals at the right time.

"But I think the biggest thing is in the locker room, we’ve got a tight group. It's been the same way since I got here. Everyone's really close, everyone's got each other’s back, everyone's working for each other, so I think that's the key for us, especially the next man up mentality we keep on mentioning, but it's huge as it allows us to succeed with injuries and all the COVID stuff."

The Blues again didn't jump to a lead. They fell behind when Alex Wennberg scored at 15:00 of the first to give the Kraken a 1-0 lead. It wasn't the greatest of starts for the Blues, but Husso kept them it a one shot game and even through all lack of executions on four power plays through two periods, there was still something about feeling like they could pull the win out.

"You’re not always going to get the lead," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "It’s nice to get the lead. Things happen, and you know, you get bad bounces. Whatever it is. You've got to just stay with it and keep pushing. I think our guys are good at that.

"It’s something we talk about a lot because if you want to be a real good team, you've got to be able to come back in games and come from behind and win. I think it’s obviously really important."

The Blues know they're going to get opponents' best efforts. Who wouldn't want to perform against one of the Western Conference's best? And for Seattle, getting its first 'Krack(en)' at the Blues, it was a chance for the Kraken to keep proving themselves even in tough times.
But the Blues were able to break through against Chris Driedger when Thomas took a terrific Brandon Saad pass and scored when his shot hit the shaft of former Blue Vince Dunn's stick 1:29 into the third period, and Buchnevich converted on their fifth power play at 5:30 for the margin of victory.

"They believe in each other. It is a tight group," Berube said. "They really like spending time together. You can see it at the rink, there’s always togetherness at the rink whether it’s in the gym, the meal room, wherever.

"That’s important to winning. It’s an important part of having a good team. There’s good chemistry and a team that cares about each other and wants to go to bat with each other. I think that’s what really it’s all about. And I find our team does that."

They did it again, and when those weapons finally do return, these points they keep banking, 47 of them in all so far, can't be lost, won't be lost.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Torey Krug (47) joins the celebration after Pavel Buchnevich (89) scored
in the third period of a 2-1 win over the Seattle Kraken Thursday.

The Blues lead the NHL with 13 come-from-behind wins. It says a lot for their character to stick with it and keep battling.

"Obviously we don't get off to the best start sometimes so I think we like to just remind ourselves how we play and what the right way is," said Blues forward Jordan Kyrou, who had an assist to extend his point streak to six games (five goals, seven assists) and was named a Central Division All-Star before the game. "Once we start to do stuff like that, stuff starts to go our way and sometimes we don't realize until the third period when we start pushing."

Push they did, and no matter who is in the lineup, and there certainly will be a time when some other key contributors could find their way out through injury or COVID protocol, the Blues just attack it as business as usual, even though it's unusual.

"We certainly approach it that way," Berube said. "We didn’t really talk about it much. At least I don’t. We got guys that come in and fill in and do the job. That’s what it’s really about. Everybody just needs to go and do their job. And we got guys that, whether it’s from the minors, or guys like a Neal – he hasn’t played much, but he comes in and they just do the job."

No comments:

Post a Comment