Tuesday, April 19, 2022

(4-19-22) Bruins-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Nine is fine, but 10 would be better as far as the Blues are concerned.

After a record-performance on Sunday in Nashville for most goals in the period when they scored seven in the second if an 8-3 win, the Blues (46-20-10) will look to keep the streak alive in search of their 10th in a row and keep their point streak alive and move it to 13 (11-0-1 currently) when they host the Boston Bruins (46-24-5) at Enterprise Center today at 7 p.m. (ESPN+, HULU, ESPN 101.1-FM).

It will be Boston's first visit to St. Louis since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

If you haven't noticed, and it's hard not to, the Blues have scored four or more goals in 12 straight games, a franchise record, and have outscored their opponents 62-32 in that stretch.

It's been duly noted that they have seven guys with 20 or more goals this season and now have eight players with 50 or more points on the season.

"It's pretty fun to watch," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Guys are making a lot of good puck plays right now. We've got to continue to do that. It's really important. The guys are doing what we ask them to do, the way we need to play with the puck, how we want to run our offense and get our 'D' involved and things like that. We've just got to continue to preach structure of it all."

It's the longest winning streak for the Blues since their franchise-setting mark in 2019 when they won the Cup and one that they want to keep building on.

"Obviously we want to keep on winning, try and keep working for that home ice stuff, but I think more than that, just trying to keep building our game in the right direction," forward David Perron said. "It doesn't matter what the score will be at the end of the day. If you do it right, we show we can win more often than not. There's a lot of positive in that regard, guys taking pride in playing the right way, third periods except the one game have been better. We keep pushing for perfection obviously."

And in pushing for perfection, the Blues, who beat the Bruins 4-2 in Boston on April 12, they want to stay sealed defensively while continuing to push for offense. That becomes a challenge.

"It's tough to do to be honest with you, especially when you are scoring the goals, it's tougher to stay on the right side of the things defensively because everyone wants to join in on the party and score, do this or that," defenseman Torey Krug said. "I think we're lucky enough that we have the locker room that we have and the coaching staff we have to stay level-headed and focused on the ultimate goal because we're built to play a certain way. We understand that we've got to have success in the playoffs. I think we just have the right mentality and we're staying focused."

During this point streak run of 12 games, the Blues are averaging 5.17 goals per game while allowing 2.67 per game.

"It's stuff that we keep reminders through video and stuff at this time of the year because you're not practicing a lot," Berube said. "Everybody's got to be cautious of playing good defense and working hard without the puck. That's the biggest thing. If you work hard without the puck, most of the time you'll do a good job of limiting the other team's quality chances and Grade A chances and things like that because of your work ethic. There's going to be breakdowns in the game. That's the bottom line, there's going to be turnovers in the game, but it's how you react to those things and it's all about work and competing.

"We're getting a pretty good chunk of it. We're always looking for more. We're always trying to improve and always trying to push our guys to be better. Everything's in the past. You've got to focus on the Boston Bruins tonight. It's a good hockey team, it's a good challenge."

From a defensive perspective, it's a different point of view why the offense is clicking, but the blue liners have also contributed to the cause.

"I think that overall on the back end, we've just been trying to dictate our pace with our transition play," Krug said. "If we move the puck quicker, turn it up in the neutral zone, have cleaner breakouts, it kind of forces our forwards to play a little bit quicker, obviously we're a pretty scary team when those guys are skating at you full force and making plays. That's just what we try to do, get it into their hands as clean as possible and ad quick as possible."

But is this a streak anyone's talking about? Is anyone superstitious?

"We haven't even talked about it to be honest," Krug said. "I'm sure we do have a couple superstitious guys in there, but it hasn't been mentioned or brought up. We're just trying to build our game right now. I think that's the sign of a good team that's growing within the room. It's been fun to be a part of it and I'm lucky to catch back into it."

"I have no idea if they talk about it or not, I really don't," Berube said. "I'm not around those guys a lot like that. I don't talk about it. I let everything go and I just focus on the next game. That's what I do.

"It's a good team that way. You've got a lot of guys that have been together for a while now on this team and have won together. They enjoy it, they enjoy being around each other."

The Blues are a plus-69 in goal differential on the season, which is fourth-best in the NHL, and their highest since they were a plus-83 in 1999-2000, which is the year they won the Presidents' Trophy with 114 points. Their 288 goals scored this season is also the highest since 1990-91 when they scored 310, the year Brett Hull scored 86 and Adam Oates had 90 assists.

"It's great that they keep coming in. I don't know that it's going to keep going like that in the playoffs, but we definitely have lines that play different ways, a little bit different looks, tougher matchup for other teams depending on any given night, who's going, who's not, whatever," Perron said. "Definitely a lot of playmakers, a lot of guys that can make plays, have good shots that can put it away. We're definitely dangerous with some of the firepower that we have and that's why it's so crucial that we have to be comfortable in those games maybe where it's going to be 1-0 or 1-1, 2-1, those games. We have to find that comfort level that we're going to have that one play, we're going to put it home. We don't need to worry about scoring four or five every night. I know we've done that recently, but I don't think longer in term of the playoffs it will happen that way."

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One area the Blues have also been clean at is staying out of the box. They've been on the kill just 22 times in the past 13 games and have taken the fourth-fewest penalty minutes per game at 7.7 In the past 13 games alone, it's only 1.69 penalty minutes while being shorthanded.

"I think our team's gotten better and better in the discipline department as the year's gone along," Berube said. "We've got to continue that. It's important not to take penalties. We have the puck a lot, which is important and that's probably going to help not taking penalties. When you're running around and you're chasing the puck all the time, especially in your own zone, that's when penalties normally happen."

"All our special teams have been good," Perron said. "Penalty kill's been excellent. A lot of good stuff's been happening from our coaches, pre-scouting the other team, definitely being disciplined and those penalties will happen, but you've got to make sure they're worth it. It's everything included. Staying out of the box is a big one."

- - -

The Blues had a bushy-haired skater enter the ice that no one seemed to recognize -- at least not right away.

As it turned out, assistant coach Jim Montgomery donned a curly-haired wig, to the surprise of many.

"I have no idea, caught me off-guard too," Berube said. "... Probably just having some fun."
"I don't know. I asked him," Perron said. "I think it's just a Halloween costume he had. I think his daughter or something found it again in the house, so he just thought he would bring it around and make the boys laugh again. He's a guy that keep it light around the rink, he's a fun guy to be around. He does little things like that all the time."

- - -

Blues defenseman Nick Leddy, who took a nasty cut and gash under his left eye from Minnesota's Kevin Fiala that forced him to miss the game Sunday in Nashville, will return tonight.

Leddy's return will move Calle Rosen, who had two goals and an assist Sunday, back into the press box as a healthy scratch.

"It's good depth we have," Berube said.

Center Tyler Bozak will miss his 18th consecutive game tonight but is close to returning, and forward Alexei Toropchenko, who blocked a shot last Thursday in Buffalo, will miss a third straight game.

"Not quite there, close. He'll be on the trip," Berube said of Bozak.

"He'll come on the road trip and he'll start skating. He could play on the trip," Berube said of Toropchenko.

- - -

* Should the Blues win tonight, it will mark their third streak of 10 wins or more in franchise history.

* With at least a point, the Blues can match the club record of 13 straight games (Jan. 3-Feb. 5, 2015).

* Center Robert Thomas has a 13-game point streak (six goals, 19 assists), his NHL career-high. He us currently tied with Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau for the fourth-longest streak in the NHL this season.

* Forward Pavel Buchnevich is carrying an NHL career-high 10-game point streak into tonight's game (six goals 12 assists). 

* Forward Vladimir Tarasenko has a five-game goal-scoring streak and has a six-game point streak (eight goals, seven assists). The goal-scoring streak matches his NHL career-high. Tarasenko has 10 goals the past eight games.

* Center Brayden Schenn has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) his past 11 games.

* Defenseman Colton Parayko has seven assists his past six games and five in a three-game assist streak.

* Perron has a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists).

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The Blues' projected lineup:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron

Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Ivan Barbashev-Brayden Schenn-Jordan Kyrou

Dakota Joshua-Logan Brown-Nathan Walker

Marco Scandella-Colton Parayko

Nick Leddy-Justin Faulk

Torey Krug-Robert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Niko Mikkola and Calle Rosen. Tyler Bozak (lower body), Mackenzie MacEachern (upper body), Alexei Toropchenko (lower body) and Scott Perunovich (wrist) are out.

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The Bruins' projected lineup:

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jake DeBrusk

Taylor Hall-Erik Haula-Curtis Lazar

Trent Frederic-Charlie Coyle-Craig Smith

Nick Foligno-Tomas Nosek-Marc McLaughlin

Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy

Mike Reilly-Brandon Carlo

Derek Forbort-Connor Clifton

Jeremy Swayman will start in goal; Troy Grosenick will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Jack Studnicka, Jack Ahcan, Anton Blidh and Josh Brown. David Pastrnak (undisclosed), Hampus Lindholm (lower body), Linus Ullmark (undisclosed), Jakub Zboril (knee) and Jesper Froden (lower body) are out.

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