After 5-2 loss to Islanders Saturday, Western
Canada swing at Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver on tap
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The drills were intense, sharp, crisp. The pace was brisk.
Sunday's are supposed to be a day of rest, but for the Blues, it was back to work.
Back to work because of one of their least inspiring results of the season during a 5-2 home loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues center Paul Stastny (26) battles for puck possession with the Islanders'
Calvin de Haan (44) and Johnny Boychuk on Saturday.
The Blues, ho rightfully admitted from players to coach Mike Yeo that they've got to tighten up their starts here a bit after three straight first periods that were less than desired.
"Yeah, obviously you have to respond right away to games like that," right wing Alexander Steen said. "In saying that, I think we've been a little soft at the start of the game the last couple. Last night it bit us and it's tough to come back after a hole like that."
Soft in what ways?
"Just not as aggressive as we've been in the past and I think a couple games ago, we got away with it a little bit," Steen said. "Good goaltending obviously and then last night, we put ourselves in a hole."
The Blues headed north of the border to Western Canada for a three-game trip that will take up the entire week ahead. First, a Monday game against the Calgary Flames, followed by a Thursday game against the Edmonton Oilers before wrapping the trip up Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.
"It's a long season and it happens sometimes," said center Paul Stastny, who along with Steen were each a minus-4 on Saturday. "A practice like this you can refocus and get ready for Calgary tomorrow."
The Blues wrapped up a stretch of six of seven games on home ice, going 4-2-0 in those games with a road win sprinkled in New Jersey. It's a chance to head out on the road and play what defenseman Colton Parayko called on Saturday night, a more simple game.
"Obviously we stumbled a little the last game, but if we were home or we were away, we'd be looking to bounce back," Yeo said. "As it happens, we're headed on the road here.
"Just get refocused (Sunday). We've been playing some games here in a stretch and we chose to have a couple optionals along the way. We felt it was important to get back on the ice before we headed out on the road."
Yeo acknowledged that they need to get back to the things that had the Blues playing so well in first periods. Before Saturday, the Blues had allowed six goals in the first 20 minutes of games through the first 17; they allowed half that many on Saturday.
"I don't think we can sit here and assume we're going to go out and grab a 3-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game," Yeo said. "That's not what it's about. It's about starting the game with urgency and focus to get to your game and that's been lacking. We've been able to find our game, but you're playing with fire when you do that in the NHL. Too many good teams and when you're digging a hole for yourself, it makes it tough to climb back in your game."
But in an NHL season, these are the ebbs and flows players must endure. The response, which the Blues have historically been good at, is the telltale sign of a good team.
"Yeah, you look at the end of the season, you look at the top teams in the league, you still have 25, 30 losses," Stastny said. "It's not the Golden State Warriors like in the NBA. That's just how it is. You've been around long enough, there's highs and lows. The highs expecting too much and the lows, you forget as quick as you can."
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues right wing Alexander Steen (20) said the Blues have been "a little
soft" at the start the past few games and need to fix those.
According to Steen, the Blues are not complacent.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "It's 82 games. You're going to see things happen throughout the course of the year and the main thing is you keep that steady, upwards curve and try to keep evolving and moving forward as a group and I think we've done a great job of doing that. Whatever the reasons are, it's not complacency. I just think that it's an 82-game schedule and teams are going to come at you some nights. Some nights you're going to have extra jump. If you have that extra jump more than not, you're going to have a successful club. I think we've done a good job throughout the course of the year. That one was obviously we're going to learn from but move on from."