Wednesday, January 26, 2022

It's reset time for Blues after Calgary debacle

Team's 7-1 loss to Flames exemplified some flaws of past two games in 
Canada; rematch with Calgary should yield an angry, determined Blues squad

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- The proverbial time to hit the reset for the Blues was in full force after the debacle that was a 7-1 defeat against the Calgary Flames this past Monday.

The Blues had the day off on Tuesday after their three-game jaunt to Seattle and Western Canada that included back-to-back games in Vancouver and Calgary.

They got away with some things, thanks to the play of Ville Husso in goal, in a 3-1 win against the Canucks on Sunday but it all came to a head against the Flames, who spotted the Blues a lead -- albeit briefly -- before the onslaught commenced.

From a player's perspective, a reset is inevitable during an 82-game season and they can benefit from having one, from a humbling point of view more than anything.

"Yeah I think so. You need a wakeup call every now and then, maybe not like last game, but for sure, a reset here and start all over," forward Oskar Sundqvist said. "We know what we have to do to be successful and last game, we didn't do anything that we usually do that's our type of game. So a reset here and go after them tomorrow."

From a coaching standpoint, not so much.

Coach Craig Berube doesn't buy into the theory that a butt-whipping can be good for a squad, but he does know that keeping the focus in the here and the now is what's most important.

"I don't know if it can be good for you or not," Berube said. "It happened and it's over with and we've got to move on and focus on tomorrow's game. We've got to learn from it and move on and get ready for tomorrow's game. 

"I'm not sure about a reset. I don't know what we would be resetting, to be honest with you. I didn't think we started very well in the Vancouver game, found a way to win. Thought we played better in the second and third period and then in Calgary, it didn't get better."

The Blues obviously didn't have their legs, they lacked the necessary energy to compete, and speaking of compete, it was non-existent.

"We've got to learn from it and come out angry tomorrow," center Robert Thomas said. "That's all we can do about it now.

"I'd say (we're) determined. We've got a lot of pride in there. We didn't take that lightly, so we'll come out ready to go tomorrow."

The Blues (25-12-5) were back on the ice Wednesday with a full practice and changed up some of their line combinations.

"It was a good practice," Berube said. "Guys understood the situation of what happened in Calgary and we've got them again here tomorrow. There will be plenty of motivation after the last game. But I thought guys did a good job, they were focused today, they had a good practice and the energy seemed pretty good today."

The roles will be reversed this time around. The Blues were coming in on the second of back-to-back games. The Flames will do so Thursday, having played in Columbus on Wednesday.

* NOTES -- Defenseman Scott Perunovich did not skate due to an undisclosed injury and was being evaluated, according to Berube. 

... The Blues assigned veteran forward James Neal to Springfield of the American Hockey League. Neal, 34, was on the taxi squad but with some of the new rules regarding it of being on there for up to 20 days and taxi squads expected to be eliminated after the All-Star break, the Blues had to figure out what to do with Neal, who has already cleared waivers; he had two goals and two assists in 19 games this season and there's no indication yet whether Neal wants to report to the AHL.

"We'll see. It's a tough situation for a guy like that that's played a long time in the NHL," Berube said. "He's still looking to play and compete and want to be a part of a team. It's a tough situation for him for sure. I have all the respect in the world for 'Nealer.' He's a great team guy, he worked really hard and we'll see what happens."

... Berube believes that Niko Mikkola, who was benched for the third period after the defenseman was a minus-5 through two periods Monday, will bounce back adequately from that experience.

"Yeah I do," Berube said. "I think it's just one of those nights. A lot of players go through it in their careers and he's just got to be mentally strong and go out and just be aggressive and do what he does."

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