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Penguins at Blues Preview: Blues’ tenacity is winning games

Half the line-up is broken? No problem.

NHL: DEC 29 Penguins at Blues Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s something different about this Blues team under coach Craig Berube. In the past, one player would go down and the entire team would be crippled. Jaden Schwartz would out for a couple weeks and the Blues would manage maybe one win in that time.

Not anymore.

The Blues are missing Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Sammy Blais, and Oskar Sundqvist. Carl Gunnarsson is sick. No worries. Call-up Nathan Walker played ten minutes and had a goal called back thanks to a missed offside, and Derrick Poulliot had 10:36. The team is getting very good at being pinned down behind adversity and then completely shrugging it off. Eighteen seconds after Roope Hintz’s game tying goal, Ivan Barbashev supplied Ryan O’Reilly with the puck in a pass that shows how valuable the regular fourth liner can be regardless of where he is in the line-up. Boom. Game winning goal.

There is zero quit in this team.

There’s not a lot of quit in the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are sandwiched in the middle of the Atlantic Division with a 14-8-4 record and who are missing Sidney Crosby. Crosby had surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out for about six weeks, but so far the Pens seem to have been able to keep pace with the rest of one of the hardest divisions in hockey.

The Blues will be visiting the Penguins Wednesday night with a layover in Chicago in Monday first. The road team won in a blowout both games last year; the Pens had the benefit of playing the Blues early in the season before the team clicked. Right now, even with five regulars out, the Penguins won’t have that benefit tonight.