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Blues hope to reverse League-wide bye week trend

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

CHICAGO - You've probably seen the records for teams coming off a bye week.

If you haven't, here are the basics: They're not good.

For whatever reason - whether it's rust or just trying to get back in the right mindset after five consecutive days with no games or practices - teams have mostly struggled in their first game back. Losing teams have been outscored 69-27 in their return, and teams coming off a bye week have a very unimpressive 6-14-4 record.

Last Saturday, five teams returned from their bye week and all of them lost (Chicago, Montreal, Nashville, Tampa Bay and Washington).

The Blues will try to buck that trend tonight when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since the Winter Classic and the final time during the regular season (6:30 p.m., NBCSN, KMOX). It's not impossible to win coming out of the break - Columbus did it Saturday with a convincing 7-0 win over the Islanders - it just won't be easy.

"For us, we look at it as a challenge. Athletes and competitors, when they're faced with a challenge, they get excited about facing that," said Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo. "For us, the way we've tried to approach it is coming out of the break, we tried to get in as many game-like situations as possible in practice, a lot more 5-on-5 situational scrimmage stuff as opposed to a regular practice. (We want) to try to get the timing back, try to get the execution and the battle back, but (real games are) not something you can replicate.

"I don't expect things to be perfect off the hop," Yeo added. "A team like Chicago is smart enough to know that, sniff that out and get to us quickly. We're going to have to be ready to handle that."

Video: Blues look to continue road success in stretch run

When the Blues went to break, they held the third spot in the Central Division and had a three-point lead over the Nashville Predators. But Nashville grabbed five of a possible six points while the Blues were off and have reclaimed third place, bumping the Blues down to the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

So, the Blues know they have some work to do.

"It's a big test for us here, playing against a team that we've had some good battles with over the years," captain Alex Pietrangelo said of tonight's matchup with Chicago. "Coming off the bye week, it's a way to set the tone for the remainder of the season. We're trying to catch a few teams ahead of us, we need to make sure we put ourselves in a good spot here."

"It's a good opportunity for us. It's a big challenge," Jaden Schwartz said about bucking the bye week curse. "You know the records (coming out of the bye) haven't been too good, but we have a chance to prove that wrong and it would be nice to come out of the break here with a good start and then build from there."

BLUE NOTES
  • A group of nearly 100 Blues season ticket holders made the trip to Chicago for tonight's game. The group took two buses from St. Louis, joining Blues Alumni Bob Plager, Terry Yake and Cam Janssen.
  • If he didn't have a game tonight, you can bet Paul Stastny would be watching the Oscars tonight. Stastny considers himself a big movie buff and gave us his predictions for tonight's Academy Awards.
  • Patrik Berglund, who signed a five-year extension on Friday, will appear in his 616th game as a Blue tonight. Berglund will move into seventh all-time in franchise history, passing Bob Plager.
  • Jay Bouwmeester will play in his 300th game as a Blue tonight, while Kevin Shattenkirk will pass Roman Polak for 10th among defenseman in Blues history by playing in his 425th game with the club.
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