ANAHEIM - The Blues may be 0-2-2 in the last four games, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t played well in stretches.
In fact, the club has owned a lead in each of its last four games. The problem has been sustaining the lead, which was especially evident in Wednesday’s game against the Avalanche. The Blues led 3-2 in the final 90 seconds before Colorado tied the game and eventually won late in overtime.
"Sometimes, I think you're finding ways to win and sometimes it's almost like you're finding ways to lose," Blues forward Paul Stastny said. "We're kind of shooting ourselves in the foot. ... It's frustrating, but we've got to find ways to stay mentally strong.”
“We did a lot of good things (in Denver),” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Not good enough obviously - not good enough closing out teams, especially divisional opponents. Those are big points we’re giving away right now. The last half of games just isn’t good enough, and it’s been a big topic here in the last couple days. No better way to turn it around than with a good game tonight.”
The Blues will meet the Anaheim Ducks at 9 p.m. (FSMW, KMOX) with the intention of putting together more solid minutes for longer periods of time. That’s one way to close out big games when you have the lead.
“We’ve played well at times, the majority of the last couple games, but we haven’t been able to get that next goal, that next timely goal to put you over the top,” defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. “We’re doing a lot of good things, and that’s what we need to focus on. If we keep doing it, eventually it’s going to work out.”
One thing’s for sure: tonight’s game won’t be easy. Honda Center hasn’t been friendly to the Blues in recent years (the last win here was Oct. 17, 2009), but they did beat the Ducks in the previous meeting in St. Louis this season. Vladimir Tarasenko and Colton Parayko scored, while Jake Allen stopped 22 shots in a 2-1 win on Oct. 29.
“They really play with tempo, and if you’re not ready to match their tempo, you’re always going to be chasing it,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Their tempo has given us trouble at times…I think we’ve played some of our best hockey (lately) and still not won. We’ve left the building happy with our effort, but (our opponents) played with more tempo than us and a little more edge.
“We’ve got to get our pace up right away.”
The Ducks are coming off a 4-0 loss to Toronto on Wednesday night at Honda Center but are 4-1-1 in their last six games. After a rough start, the Ducks have pulled themselves back to .500 and are six points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Based on the morning skate, it looks like the Blues will use the same lines from Wednesday night in Colorado.
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund - David Backes - Magnus Paajarvi
Dmitrij Jaskin - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
The Blues have converted on the power play in four straight games, which is just one shy of their longest streak this season (five games from Dec. 10-17).
Stastny is on a season-high five-game assist streak. His career-best is six games, which he’s achieved twice.
Jake Allen is 3-0-0 in his career against Anaheim, including a 0.66 goals-against average, a .973 save-percentage and one shutout. He will start tonight against the Ducks.