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Power Play Rolling as Blues Host 'Canes

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - It may sound clichè, but there’s really no other way say it: the Blues’ power play is firing on all cylinders.

The Blues have power-play goals in four consecutive games, converting on eight of their last 17 chances.

A big reason for that success is Assistant Coach Kirk Muller, who spent 19 seasons in the NHL as a player. Muller scored 357 goals and 602 assists (959 points) in 1,349 career games, and 310 of those points were scored on the power play.

“He’s a coach you can really relate to,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “Obviously with the amount of games and experience he has in the League, he’s extremely easy to talk to, whether it’s coming back from injury, the wear and tear of the season, travel, he’s been through it all.

“On the power play, he has good dialogue and good communication,” Steen added. “We talk and discuss everything from breakouts to end zone plays and what we want to do. The biggest thing is he stuck with the same guys, same units and we’ve been able to build a lot of chemistry…(We) read off each other and give a little nod and everybody knows what play we’re going to run. It’s been a big help.”

Muller served as the Head Coach of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-14 and will be behind the bench against them for the first time tonight (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).

“I approach tonight just like another game,” Muller said. “I look at (my time in Carolina) as a great opportunity for me to start my head coaching… Jim Rutherford gave me that opportunity and I learned a lot and it was a great experience. Now I’m here in St. Louis and learning from one of the best with Hitch.”

But back to that power play, which is the best in the League at 26.4 percent. Muller said the success is a collaborative effort.

“We really work it all together (as a coaching staff). It’s a group effort,” Muller said. “Secondly, it’s the players. You can have a group of talented guys, but if they just go out and think it’s going to happen, it doesn’t. They really have a lot of pride in it, they execute and get better at it and have fun with it.

“I approach it like a two-way street. Throw ideas at me, and I’ll throw ideas at you,” Muller said. “(The players) are the ones that are playing and they know what plays (they) like to make and what (they) feel comfortable with. We just have a good communication about it and walk through it, talk about it and go out and try to execute.”

SIZING UP THE ‘CANES

The Hurricanes have won three of the last four games, most recently a 5-2 victory at home against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Eric Staal leads the team with 25 points. Defenseman Justin Faulk is second with 24.

“This team has done well against some of the top teams in the West,” Muller said. “For us, it’s really important that we get pucks in their zone, have offensive time down there, make them stop, grind it out and play defense. We’re hoping to wear them down. If it’s an up-and-down fast game, that’s to their benefit.”

OFFENSIVE STRIDE

In the last three games, the Blues have scored 20 goals, which moves them into third overall in the NHL with 128. Only Tampa Bay (139) and Toronto (134) have scored more.

Here are a few more stats worth bragging about:

At the midway point of the season, the Blues have 53 points. It’s just the sixth time in franchise history the Blues have had at least 53 points at the midway point (2013-14, 2011-12, 2000-01, 1999-00 and 1980-81).

T.J. Oshie has posted multiple points in three consecutive games for the third time in his career, extending his overall point streak to a career-high-tying seven games (six goals, seven assists).

Steen has points in five straight games, scoring three goals and eight assists in that span. He’s also had four consecutive multiple point games.

After a four-goal outing in Arizona, David Backes added a goal and an assist Thursday vs. San Jose and has nine points (five goals, four assists) over his last five games.

Paul Stastny has three consecutive multi-point games and has a four-game point streak (two goals, give assists).

BLUE NOTES

The Blues will know who is headed to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus later today. The remaining roster will be announced around 5 p.m. this afternoon.

Brian Elliott, who will start in goal, ranks third among goaltenders in home goals-against average (1.63) and save-percentage (.940). Since returning from injury on Dec. 30, Elliott is 2-1-0 with a 1.77 goals-against average.

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