Thursday, January 27, 2022

Saad, Schenn, Perron lead way for Blues in 5-1 win over Flames

Veteran, experienced forward line combines for three goals, two assists, 
provide heavy, physical play after 7-1 stinker against Flames Monday

ST. LOUIS -- Monday's complete stinker against the Calgary Flames was not going to come without some sort of change in the rematch on Thursday.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues forward Brayden Schenn gets off a shot against the Calgary Flames
on Thursday. He scored a goal and had an assist in a 5-1 win.

A 7-1 bludgeoning didn't bring about any phases where the Blues were happy. They've had other games in which they were badly outplayed but in some shape or form, came away with a point and/or points.

So when coach Craig Berube tweaked up the forward lines and put up on the board 20-10-57, it was with the intentions of setting the tone, playing with a purpose and playing with an edge.
Brandon Saad, Brayden Schenn didn't disappoint. That trip combined for three goals and two assists in a 5-1 win against the Flames in the rematch at Enterprise Center on Thursday.

Saad scored twice and had an assist, Schenn had a goal and an assist and although Perron didn't register a point, he was noticeable all over the ice. It was a line that the Blues (26-12-5) counted on and got production from at both ends of the ice.

"I thought we did a good job of keeping it simple and playing in their end," Saad said. "We had a lot of cycle shifts, we were easing to the net and changing sides and I think that leads to success. Regardless if the pucks are going in, they're a good transition team. I think we just did a good job of simplifying."

Schenn added, "I’ve played with everyone so you just try to go out there and make it happen as fast as possible. You don’t try to take a period or a game to get things going.  We all felt like we had the same mindset from the first shift tonight, we were heavy and hard and we ended up getting rewarded with some goals.

"... You can look at it really any way. I think the three of us try to bring the same mindset or the same mentality every night and that's trying to be good 200-foot players for us and both guys on my wings, they're heavy, they're hard to knock off the puck and I'm sure they're no fun to play against. So I enjoyed playing with them tonight and we have one more game before the break to keep building."

There are plenty of experienced veterans for Berube to put together at his disposal. This was 2,346 games worth of NHL regular-season experience that has been in every situation possible.

"That’s three veteran guys that have been around," Berube said. "They know how to play the game properly. They have the ability, all of them, to score goals and play a heavy, grind game in my opinion. Like get down low in the offensive zone, hang onto pucks, controlling the play. They all got good size. They were a real effective line tonight."

Saad and Schenn scored first-period goals to spark the Blues, who probably deserved more than a 2-1 lead because what they did Thursday was nowhere to be seem Monday was they backchecked with regularity, got on the forecheck much better and absorbed Calgary's forecheck without turning the puck over and chasing pucks being hemmed in, in their zone.

But they got the offense rolling against Jacob Markstrom, who recorded his NHL-leading sixth shutout on Wednesday, and were relentless.

"There's a lot of factors, but it's tough when we're in their building, it's back-to-back and I think we were just careless with the puck," Saad said. "We were trying to make too many plays. We have a very skilled team where sometimes you've got to find the balance of making a play or just getting it in deep and making their D turn. Too many mistakes, we didn't have our brains on that game and obviously they capitalized on a lot of chances."

Schenn, who has eight points (five goals, three assists) in five games since returning off the COVID-19 protocol, felt the difference was night and day.

"The difference between the two games, I think we went to Calgary and thought it was going to be a little bit easier," Schenn said. "Not easy, we turned over the puck. We didn't have our skating legs. We chased it the whole night, it just kept on snowballing on us. And tonight, I think we had a good mindset to get the puck deep. We knew they were on a back to back and just try and play heavy and hard which we did tonight. And obviously (Ville) Husso was great again for us tonight."

Saad's second of the game, his 15th of the season in his 39th game, which matched his season total in 44 games with Colorado last season, made it 3-1 in the second period. It was done with hard work behind the Calgary net along the boards by Perron and Schenn as the puck was freed up for Saad in the slot. 

As for Perron, who played 17:27 Thursday, he was as engaged as he's been since his concussion he sustained in Chicago on Nov. 26. 

"Yeah, I think so. I think that’s the most I’ve seen him engaged, competing with the puck and hanging onto it. Making plays. Shooting," Berube said. "He did a lot of good things tonight.

"That’s his game. I’ve talked to him a little bit about it before. He did that tonight. He was a real good player for us tonight."

Perron was doing all the right things with the puck and he even got into a tussle with Calgary's Dillon Dube, wrestling the Flames forward to the ice near the Blues bench.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues forward Brandon Saad (right) gets congratulated by the bench after
scoring one of two goals in a 5-1 win against the Calgary Flames.

"I think it helps our team," Saad said. "When you can play with that passion, he plays with that edge and he's so good at protecting the puck and getting in those battles. He has that feistiness to him. I think any time you see that, it's going to get you up on the bench."

All-in-all, it was a good bounce-back game for the Blues, who haven't lost two in a row in regulation since Nov. 14-16. 

"I thought everybody did a great job tonight. Everybody up front," Berube said. "Back end I thought was really good. I thought our back end was hard to play against, closed, they broke pucks out, they did a good job, making plays – composure plays. But it was a team effort."

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