The Blues have the chance to tie a franchise record for consecutive wins at home when they play the fourth of a five-game home stand against the Anaheim Ducks at 7 p.m. today (FS-MW, ESPN 101.1-FM).
But in order to do that, the Blues (29-10-7 overall and 16-4-3 on home ice) will have to defeat one of four teams to defeat them this season in regulation here.
The Blues, who have won eight in a row and can tie the record set Jan. 26-Feb. 26, 1991, lost to the Ducks 4-1 on Nov. 16.
"That's a long time ago and we know what happened in that game and looked back on it and stuff," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "A couple broken plays. It was a close game, 3-1 then an empty-net goal, right? Probably got to score more than one goal."
That goes without saying.
In saying that regarding the Ducks, who have lost three in a row and are 3-8-1 their past 12 games, Berube respects the opponent.
"They have the puck a lot, probably top five in the League in puck possession," he said. "They shoot a lot and they have a lot of o-zone time. Watching film, we've got to make sure we're strong at our blue line and not allowing them in there and forcing them to dump pucks and then we've got to break it out and get it out of our end."
The Blues allowed a shorthanded goal in the first meeting, another two off busted plays and an empty-net goal in allowing only 24 shots on the night. So it's not as if there aren't instances that occurred that they can't fix.
"It's a long time ago, it's hard to remember those games, but I think it's juts focusing on us right now," Blues defenseman Vince Dunn said. "We're playing really well and we're playing very well structurally. We're scoring lots of goals, which is something we don't always do. Our power play's playing pretty well too right now. They're scoring important goals for us in the games. Goaltending's playing very well, forwards are playing great defensively as well. As a whole, we're really comfortable with our game right now. I think that's just our focus."
The Blues have outscored their opponents 32-14 during their home winning streak.
- - -
Speaking of Dunn, his end-of-game fight with Jacob Trouba Saturday night yielded a $5,000 fine for the New York Rangers defenseman and also drew praise for Dunn for sticking up for himself after he said he was slashed six times on the end-of-game power play, but the way teammates stuck up for him and had a staredown with the Rangers as the teams exited the ice. The Blues were not going to allow the visiting team, which lost 5-2, to exit with the upper hand.
"Obviously they weren't happy with Dunner," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "We owned the puck at the end of the game and they got a little fired up, but it's just a team mentality in here, we always have. The crowd was into it too and kind of watched them skate off the ice. We'll expect a rough, physical game against them the next time."
Berube liked the unity his team showed once again.
"I didn't see it. I left the bench, so I was inside already but I was told about it," Berube said. "They stick up for each other and care about each other. That's all that is.
"It's just normal hockey. It's frustration from them. When your team doesn't do well and Trouba's a veteran guy that's been around, he's had success in this league, played on a good team in Winnipeg for a number of years. It's frustration, that's all. Nothing else."
Dunn had the puck and was skating around the Rangers net with it, with really no intention to score as the waning seconds wound down, and Trouba was on Dunn's heels chopping at his legs.
Dunn finally had enough as the horn sounded and the two exchanged pleasantries, including Dunn landing a left to Trouba's jaw.
"He just kept slashing me and slashing me," Dunn said of Trouba. "That's not part of the game. I think the ref had a penalty on the play, but I'm not sure, it was kind of behind my back. Just an emotional game.
"If they want to play like that, that's up to them. I'm not going to quit. Especially us, we don't always get a lot of time on the power play so it's kind of nice to get out there and do our thing on the second unit. We were just going to have fun with it, and one thing led to another.
"It would have been nice to get a couple more. I saw the replay. I don't really comment on that. I'm not a fighter, but like I said, it's an emotional game. If he's going to hack at me, I'm probably going to react like anyone else would."
Dunn is part of the Blues' second power play unit and wanted to use the time wisely, even though the game was well in hand. But he also was aware to just let the time tick off.
"I kind of thought about it," Dunn said. "Usually at the end of games, they'll yell from the bench. I didn't really know how anyone was feeling. No one was saying anything. I kind of was skating up the ice. I wasn't trying to go through five guys or anything. I was just kind of skating around. I probably could have shot it initially, but I kind of just held onto it on the ice.
"Everyone may comment that the game was over, but if they're going to play like that, we're going to keep playing until the end."
Dunn will play in his 200th NHL game tonight. He has 72 points (24 goals, 49 assists).
"That's really cool. Obviously every game matters," Dunn said. "This one is a little extra special for me, but I think personally, I just want to keep this momentum going that we've built the last couple games, especially at home here. So I think tonight's a big matchup for us. I don't think we've seen these guys in a while now. I'm looking forward to the first shift here and hopefully we can get off to a good start."
- - -
The Blues will keep their skating lineup from Saturday in tact, which means Colton Parayko (upper body) will miss a fifth straight game, Carl Gunnarsson (arm) is physically ready to play but will miss his 14th straight game and Jordan Kyrou will be a healthy scratch.
The only change will be Jake Allen makes the start, his first since a 5-4 overtime loss at Vegas on Jan. 4.
"I've liked the games. I know I switched a forward here or there, but the defense corps right now is strong, looks good, so I'm going to keep it the same," Berube said. "Up front, I thought that all four lines contributed in the game and did a good job, so go with the same lineup tonight."
As for Gunnarsson, the message is patience.
"What we say to Gunny is he's got to be patient right now and it's hard for him," Berube said. "He's a veteran guy that's played real good hockey for us and has played in the league a long time. It was unfortunate, his injury and stuff like that, but like I said, it's going pretty good back there right now, so we're just going to leave it the same right now."
Parayko is getting close, but the Blues can afford the luxury of allowing what ails him to heal properly.
"He's getting close," Berube said. "We'll decide, we'll see how it goes, but there's a good possibility he could play (before the All-Star break)."
The emergence of Niko Mikkola, who played 17:30 on Saturday, is allowing the Blues to not rush Parayko back.
"We definitely miss his presence," Dunn said of Parayko. "I think Mikkola has done a great job for us. He looks very comfortable out there. He's not trying to make highlight plays. He's trying to play very simple. He's very effective out there, he's a big guy. He uses his size and his stick to his advantage. I think all of us have done a good job playing well defensively and contributing offensively. When you see 'Bobbo' [Robert Bortuzzo] jump in there, just little things like that, shows when one guy goes down, it doesn't mean we all can't pick our level of game up. It's hard to replace a guy like that, but I think we've done a pretty good job lately."
- - -
Schenn has been experimenting with a new stick the past couple days but isn't ready to give up on the old one.
Schenn has been trying out a new Bauer Flex stick that has a hole in the blade. It's not something that's made him want to change, but something offered up to him.
"I'm trying a new one, that Bauer, with the hole in the blade type of thing," Schenn said. "New technology. It's supposed to have some sling shot effect off the blade or something like that, but it's light, it's cool, it's a new feature. It's a little bit different when you're looking down at your blade and you see a hole in it, but some other guys in the league are using them and I think they like them."
The question is, does Schenn like it?
"Just a couple practices," he said. "First period two games ago, I used it for about four or five shifts and switched out of it. It's kind of new technology and kind of stuck in your old ways of using the sticks you know. There's always something new coming out and you've got to branch out and try new things. ... They just gave it to me and I tried to use it. If I like it, I'll (use it). I've got to use it more in practice (first). As of right now, I'm using my old sticks. They asked me about a couple months ago id I wanted to try some new sticks and I tried it. It's really all that happened."
- - -
The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Oskar Sundqvist
Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron
Alexander Steen-Robert Thomas-Tyler Bozak
Mackenzie MacEachern-Jacob de la Rose-Ivan Barbashev
Vince Dunn-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo
Jake Allen will start in goal; Jordan Binnington will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Troy Brouwer and Jordan Kyrou. Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder), Carl Gunnarsson (arm), Sammy Blais (wrist) and Colton Parayko (upper body) are out.
- - -
The Ducks' projected lineup:
Adam Henrique-Ryan Getzlaf-Daniel Sprong
Max Jones-Sam Steel-Ondrej Kase
Max Comtois-Isac Lundestrom-Rickard Rakell
Nicolas Deslauriers-Devin Shore-Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Cam Fowler-Erik Gudbranson
Jacob Larsson-Michael Del Zotto
John Gibson will start in goal; Ryan Miller will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Korbinian Holzer and Chase De Leo. Jakob Silfverberg (upper body), Derek Grant (shoulder) and Nick Ritchie (knee) are out.