Coming off of back to back shutouts on the road, the St. Louis Blues know that they have to maintain an offensive game to match their defense.
Forward Kenny Agostino, who has nine shots on goal in the two games since his recall from the Chicago Wolves, said he’s been fortunate to be in positions where he could direct the puck toward the net.
“If I get a chance to shoot, I’m gonna shot,” Agostino said, “and if it’s a passing play I’m gonna pass. I found myself in opportunities and in position on the ice where shooting has been the play, so hopefully we can do more of that.”
While Blues fans expressed some frustration with former head coach Ken Hitchcock’s persistence in switching up the forward lines, Mike Yeo has promoted stability. The forwards will remain the same tonight as they were in Ottawa, with Carl Gunnarsson replacing Robert Bortuzzo on defense. That consistency has helped Agostino get more comfortable as he adjusts to the NHL.
“I’m playing with two guys that are tremendous hockey players, but also they’ve been great linemates and great teammates,” said Agostino. “We talk a lot on the bench, which is great for me. I love to talk during games. They’ve been very helpful, so it’s been a nice transition.”
Blues forward Patrik Berglund, who has 12 goals in his last 24 games and two in his last three, agreed with that assessment.
“If you stick together with a couple guys, you build chemistry. Then you kind of know where they’re going at all times,” he said. “If we can stick together, we’ll be a good line out there.”
The “we” that Berglund was referring to included wingers Jaden Schwartz and Magnus Paajarvi. Though Paajarvi scored on Tuesday in Ottawa in his first game since also being recalled, Schwartz is scoreless in his last 8 games and only has two goals in his last 26 appearances.
Berglund, who scored a power play goal assisted by Agostino in Ottawa, was confident that his unit would find success. “I think it’s a good line. I think the guys played a terrific game, and hopefully we can build some confidence out of that,” said Berglund.
With the Blues generating points from players on all four lines on Tuesday, they’ll be focused on maintaining a balanced attack to combat defensive pressure from a Maple Leafs team that is hungry to make up for a poor performance in St. Louis.
Toronto defenseman Roman Polak, a former Blue, said that his team needed to be more ready for this evening’s game than they were for last week’s.
“We didn’t play good defensively at all,” he said. “We were just running around out there and trying to create offense. We didn’t compete as we could, so compete level has to be higher.”
The Blues will attempt to fight fire with fire, and match that compete level with an offensive consistency that has eluded the team thus far this season.