DENVER - As the Blues look for a fourth straight win tonight despite a myriad of injuries to key players this season, their success has come in large part because players in supporting roles have made an impact.
Recent examples include Ty Rattie, who has scored three goals in four games since his call up from the Chicago Wolves, and Dmitrij Jaskin, who scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday night in Detroit.
Another is Brian Elliott, who is 5-1-1 with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage since Jake Allen was injured Jan. 8 in Anaheim. In fact, over his last three games, Elliott has stopped 111 of 116 shots in three consecutive wins.
“That’s the beauty of our team,” defenseman Colton Parayko said. “We’ve had some great players step in and that’s what makes us a good hockey club.”
“Moose has been great for us,” added forward Troy Brouwer. “I’ve only been here for a short time, but the confidence level the guys have in him is absolutely amazing. It just makes it easy for us to go out and play and not have to worry about anything happening there, because we know he’s going to make saves for us.”
For Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, he said he’s been impressed with the way the Blues have adapted to whatever adversity they’ve faced.
“We’ve adapted to a different style, a different strategy, a more conservative approach. The buy-in has been excellent,” he said. “We’ve been able to get the players to put things individually aside for the betterment of the team. That’s what’s given us the record we have right now.”
Tonight, the Blues meet the Colorado Avalanche for the second time this month (8 p.m. CT, FSMW, KMOX). Colorado took a 4-3 overtime win on Jan. 6, a game in which the Blues had a 3-1 lead in the second period. But, those days of the Blues losing leads seem long gone. Now, they’re finding ways to win.
The Blues have points in four of the last five games in Denver (3-1-1), although the Avalanche have been hot at Pepsi Center lately, winning five of the last six contests.
“If we start with the puck, it’ll mean they have to chase us. If they start with the puck, we’ll have to chase them and they’re the wrong team to chase,” Hitchcock said. “They’ve got lots of dynamics, skill and speed up front.”
DEFENSE GETS HEALTHY (ALMOST)
Carl Gunnarsson (upper-body), Robert Bortuzzo (lower-body) and Colton Parayko (sick) were all back on the ice today in Denver. After practice, Hitchcock said all three players were healthy and available to play.
But during practice, Joel Edmundson was hit in the mouth with a puck and left early.
“We lasted about 11 minutes as healthy and that’s as good as we’ve got so far,” Hitchcock said. “We’ll see how (Edmundson) is later today.”
Gunnarsson will definitely play after a paperwork snafu prevented him from returning Wednesday in Detroit. And Parayko is feeling better and said he’s good to go, too.
“The guys that came up have been doing a great job, (Andre) Benoit the last two games has been outstanding and (Chris) Butler too when he was up. Those guys really stepped it up, but getting our D back together is kind of nice and hopefully we can keep it that way.”
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund - David Backes - Ty Rattie
Dmitrij Jaskin - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson (Robert Bortuzzo) - Colton Parayko
With two penalty minutes Wednesday in Detroit, David Backes passed Chris Pronger for fifth on the Blues’ all-time penalty minutes list (933).
Paul Stastny has scored 250 points at Pepsi Center, which is the fourth-most behind Milan Hejduk (397), Joe Sakic (344) and Alex Tanguay (254).
Brian Elliott is 3-0-0 with a 1.30 goals-against and a .938 save-percentage in his last three starts against the Avalanche.
The Blues are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the most games played this season at 50. Only two games remain before the All-Star Break (tonight in Colorado and Sunday in Chicago). The Blues will be idle for eight days before returning to action Feb. 2 in Nashville.