Blues Want to 'Get Back to Work'

Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 1:09 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Gameday Blog
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Blues Want to \'Get Back to Work\'



ST. PAUL - The Blues look to avoid their first four-game losing streak since last season when they meet the Minnesota Wild (42-26-12, 96 points) tonight at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center (NBCSN, KMOX).

The Blues have lost three in a row for the first time this season. The last time the club lost four straight was Feb. 1 – 11, 2013.

Despite the losing streak, Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said he’s seeing improvement.

“We’re making progress. We probably had two sloppy games. Last game we showed a lot of improvement, a lot of good things, so I’d rather build on the positives,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of things that I like to see. The feeling with us and the players was that it was a good thing that we saw (Wednesday at practice) and a lot of good stuff (in Tuesday’s game), so we’ve just got to stay with the program.

“If we were guilty of anything, maybe we were guilty of looking too far ahead,” Hitchcock added. “Now the last three games caught our attention. Now it’s back to work.”

The Wild punched their ticket to the playoffs Tuesday night with a 4-3 shootout win against the League-leading Bruins. Minnesota trailed 3-2 in the third period until Ryan Suter scored with 1:05 left to play.

With the shootout win, the Wild locked up the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Since losing 5-1 to the Blues on March 27, Minnesota is 5-0-1, with their only loss coming in overtime on April 3 at Chicago.

“It’s a good challenge for us. They’re winning hockey games and they’ve won their way into the playoffs,” Hitchcock said after Wednesday's practice. “It will be a good test for us…a possible (playoff) opponent.”

Said Brenden Morrow, “We still have three games here to straighten it out and get some momentum. You want to have confidence and momentum going into that first game of the playoffs. Colorado is at our heels. We need to sharpen up.

“It’s been pretty smooth sailing for us throughout the year. Now we’re finding some adversity. We’re going to find out what we’re made of.”

BACKES UPDATE, SOBOTKA MOVES UP

David Backes suffered a lower-body injury in the second period Tuesday vs. Washington and won’t play tonight in Minnesota. He is on the road trip with the team.

"He's going to be out for potentially three games and then play," Hitchcock said. "I don't think it's a big deal."

With Backes out, expect Vladimir Sobotka to fill in on the top line with Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie. Hitchcock was excited Thursday about seeing that group in action.

"It's got speed, tenacity. I'm really excited to see how this looks. It might be something potentially, if it looked really good, that we could potentially move into the playoffs and use it as a line," Hitchcock said. "I want to see how it looks tonight. It would be unbelievable if we could do it. It would give us the positional depth without (Vladimir) Tarasenko that we're looking for. But it has to be a productive line, a threat."

BLUE NOTES

The Blues are riding a franchise-best nine-game winning streak against the Wild. Three of those nine wins were shutouts.

T.J. Oshie has seven goals and nine assists (16 points) in his last 16 games against the Wild. Jaden Schwartz is also hot against the Wild, scoring three goals and four assists in his last six games.

With one more goal, Schwartz (20 years, 3 months) would become the fourth-youngest Blue to reach 25 goals in a season. Only three Blues have reached the milestone at an earlier age: Rod Brind’Amour (19 years, 84 days), Doug Gilmour (20 years, 129 days) and Wayne Babych (20 years, 148 days).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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