After a thrilling 2-1 OT win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in which Tarasenko did Tarasenko things the Blues wrap up their three game Canadian road trip at the Centre Bell (speak American damnit) in Montreal.
Much to our surprise the Blues have been successful thus far on Mike Yeo’s first road trip as the team’s head coach. In fact, Yeo is the first head coach in franchise history to win his first three road games.
However, it seems that each game gets more challenging as the team makes its way across the great white north.
While playing the second night of a back to back Jake Allen and the Blues handed the Senators a 6-0 shutout loss that saw Ottawa get as much production out of their Senators as we Americans get out of ours. The line of Steen, Stastny and Tarasenko combined for six points, rewarding Mike Yeo for sticking with the line combination after their lack of production the night before.
Thursday night started much the same way as the previous night’s game had ended. The resurgent Patrik Berglund put the Blues on the board early when he scored his 14th goal of the season. Unfortunately, the Blues offense came to a screeching halt when Paul Stastny suffered a lower body injury after colliding with goaltender Frederik Andersen early in the second period. Although Stastny is not expected to play tonight the Blues feel the injury is not serious.
"He's usually the first guy over the boards for a power-play face-off or the first guy over the boards for a penalty kill faceoff and those are key. He's a very important player for us," Yeo said. "You don't take out a top-line center from too many lineups where they don't feel that. It's got to be a next-man-up mentality here. We have more than capable players and our focus is on the guys that are in the lineup and if we take care of our job, we give him a chance to get better and obviously we'll be stronger when he gets back." [NHL.com]
So down their top line center, who has 15 goals and 20 assists while predominately NOT playing on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues head into Montreal to play their fourth game in six days.
Due to the Blues 23 man roster already being full and not wanting to send Agostino or Barbashev back down to Chicago Mike Yeo has elected to fill the void at center from within, stating that either Schwartz, Jaskin or even Paajarvi may get the assignment.
Although it may be a daunting one, it seems that throughout the season the Blues have responded well to a challenge and this little bit of adversity may give the team something to focus on as the grind of this five game road trip starts to wear on them.
Luckily the Blues are catching the Canadians in the middle of a mid-season slump. A slump that has some of the Habs fans calling for the dismissal of head coach Michel Therrien. Seriously. They want to fire the coach of the best team in the Atlantic division. Seriously.
Before beating the Arizona Coyotes in OT (yes, OT) the Canadians had been bogged down in a four game losing streak. Capped off by a 4-0 shutout loss to the freakin Colorado Avalanche the game before.
One of the reasons Montreal has hit the skids comes from its 23rd ranked penalty kill unit. Couple that with homophobic, shithead Andrew Shaw’s (seriously, that guy is an asshole) pension for taking lots of stupid penalties and it is a recipe for, well, things like a 4-0 loss to the freakin Avalanche.
Likewise, stud goaltender Carey Price has apparently decided to hit the cruise control until April. After carrying this team for three and a half months I can’t say that I really blame him but giving up four goals to both the Avalanche and Coyotes is somewhat alarming.
Finally, the middle of the Canadians roster is not that good. The Habs first and fourth line are more than capable of holding their own but the middle two lines are struggling mightily to keep up. Does this spell a Berglund hat trick? Maybe. Look for some of the Blues role players to have some success tonight.
Regardless of their recent rough spell the Canadians are still one of the best teams in the Eastern conference and the Blues are banged up and missing some key players. This will definitely be a good test for the streaking Blues.
Check back later today when Game Time’s beat reporter Jeff Jones gives the details from the Blues morning skate as well as today’s lineup.