Thanks, Blues! Another victory in the hopper, 4-1 in Dallas. Dallas. Another fine showcase of teamwork and tenacity, resourcefulness and resilience. Winning hockey, brought to you by the STL-Springfield co-op.
The Blues are 4-0-1 in their last five and sit at ninth overall in the NHL with a 16-8-5 record and .638 points percentage.
A 5-0 start was followed by injuries and Covid and a 5-7-2 lull … followed by even more injuries and Covid – and a surprisingly forceful 6-1-3 emergency response to the crisis. The Blues have earned points in 10 of their last 11 games, and that’s ridiculous considering the constant turmoil and lineup shuffling. The Blues refuse to crack. They’ve actually gotten stronger.
Over the last 10+ games their roster was ripped up like next week’s Christmas morning wrapping paper, but the Springfield-STL band of buddies are doing some incredible patchwork to keep the Blues moving forward in the NHL standings.
Tuesday in Dallas, the Blues dressed seven players that began the season in AHL Springfield. The Blues faded the Stars with goals by four different players: Justin Faulk, Colton Parayko, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly.
This is how they do it. The contributions are coming from unlikely sources, expected sources, Springfield sources, blue-line sources, rookie sources, Russian sources, an Aussie source, and many sources – with the 13 different Blues depositing goals over this 4-0-1 streak. They never seem to run out of darts.
The Russian Federation is rocking and rolling and the line of Ivan Barbashev, Vladmir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich outscoring the opposition 5-1 over the last five games.
Barbashev is a demon, and I mean that in a positive way. In his last 10 games he’s tied with Buchnevich for the team lead in goals (6), is second in points (11) and second in hits (20.) After a 10-game drought, Tarasenko has 10 points in his last nine contests. During the same 6-3-1 streak, Buchnevich has six goals and eight assists and the Blues have outscored the enemy 19-5 when he’s going hunting on the ice.
Bartender in honor of the team’s hottest line, how about a round of Red Machine IPA for the house?
Goaltender Charlie Lindgren is becoming a folk hero with his sideburns and an overall vibe that makes him fit for a role in a remake of Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter.” The Blues had Brian Elliott in goal for several years; now they have a dude that’s gonna look like Sam Elliott if he just thickens up his mustache.
Oh, and in only one week of game performances with St. Louis, the Blues’ Lucky Lindy has four wins and a .956 percentage in 186-plus minutes. Is that good?
Back from Mystery Town, Parayko is looking like Parayko again. He’s scoring goals now!
Back from Covid, Faulk made an immediate impact in his restart to the season. He never felt ill during his Covid sentence, and the defenseman spent his days at a “lake in Missouri somewhere.”
“I went fishing,” Faulk said. “I had time with my dogs on a lake in Missouri somewhere, took some walks. It was pretty sunny some days, again with my dogs. What else did I do? I cooked a few times, three meals a day and then also for my dogs. Nothing crazy, I don’t think.”
Sounds like a party to me. At least it wasn’t Tom Hanks in “Castaway,” and Faulk found his way back to St. Louis in proper time.
You know that things are really dandy for the Blues when the defensive pairing of Robert Bortuzzo and Marco Scandella played as effectively as the tandem of Faulk and Torey Krug in Dallas.
The Blues didn’t control Dallas from start to finish; statistically the teams played to a virtual draw. But when it was time for separation – determining the winner and the loser – the Blues pulled away.
The team that had the will to win came out on top of the team that had the will to exist.
That’s why Dallas coach Rick Bowness unloaded on his team after the game. He was frustrated after watching the Blues grind away, flattening his team into a tortilla.
“We had some guys that we’ll have to check the video tomorrow to see if they even played,” Bowness said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I couldn’t find them out on the ice. Unless you’re going to want to show up and get your nose dirty and get involved in a game like that, then you’re a complete non-factor.
“We had a few of those guys that were complete no-shows. We have no chance if we have guys that don’t want to show up and play in those games.”
Bowness did not mention the moody star Tyler Seguin by name. But the Dallas media was absolutely sure that Bowness was referring to Seguin, who had one shot on goal and two shot attempts in 15 minutes and 10 seconds of uninspired play.
“We just didn’t have enough guys want to play a gritty game and they did,” Bowness said. “The guys you were counting on to make a difference were the issue.”
What a compliment to the Blues.
On the other side of the arena, Craig Berube is a coach who loves his team – even if you have to go at him with dentistry instruments to get the jaws open to let the praise come flying out. But Berube’s personality makes his postgame sessions fun.
In their most interesting season since the sudden turnaround in 2018-2019 – and you know how that ended – the Blues are getting on the other team’s nerves. The grit is there, and the Springfield travelers brought some sandpaper with them. But the Blues are also flashing good speed, and going off on rushes. They get style points, too.
This is a terrifically entertaining team. And I’m talking like a loon here, but I must confess something to y’all: I don’t want the Springfield boys to go back to Massachusetts. Their impact has been phenomenal. The Blues had no motivational issues, but the Springfield fellas have more energy than Springsteen when it’s time to hit the stage to perform. Their non–stop pep and zest enhances the overall spirit.
Nathan Walker, Dakota Joshua, Logan Brown and Matthew Peca are a constant reminder of how the Blues must play to be successful.
“They’re straightforward, they get pucks in deep and they go to work,” Berube said. “That’s really what it boils down to.”
The Blues are tied for the league’s third-best points percentage (.750) since Nov. 26. They’ve taken a terrible situation and turned it into a wonderful display of who they are. I don’t know how long this can last, but I’m enjoying every minute.
Thanks for reading…
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All stats used here are from Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference unless otherwise noted.
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