Five superlatives from the Blues’ 5-game winning streak



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ST. LOUIS — If someone tells you St. Louis Blues won 4-3, they could be talking about any game from the past week.

They won their fourth consecutive game by that final score on Sunday, and for the third time in those four games, it came in overtime.

“We’ll take ’em since we’ve been on the right side,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said.

Overall, the Blues’ winning streak is at five games, including victories over Washington (3-0), Calgary (4-3), Vancouver (4-3 OT), Seattle (4-3 OT) and Los Angeles (4-3 OT). It’s the second-longest streak in the NHL behind the Edmonton Oilers, which is now at 16 games.

“We’re finding a way to win,” Blues forward Jordan Kyrou said. “We’re playing really strong as a team and we always have each other’s backs out there. We’re playing together on the ice, so that builds character, and we’ve shown a lot of resiliency these past few games.”

It’s been more than a few games.

It was well-documented that the Blues had a brutal schedule in January, and with Sunday’s win over L.A., they are 8-3-1 this month. That .708 points-percentage ranks 10th in the league in that span.

With one more game left before a 10-day break for the NHL All-Star Game and bye week, the recent run has given the Blues 54 points, and put them into a wild-card spot in the Western Conference standings.

“It’s going to be tight right to till the end,” Blues captain Brayden Schenn said. “It’s nice to be in the playoffs and in that wild-card position, but you can’t keep your foot off the gas. We’re chasing a lot of teams, teams are chasing us now, and we feel like we can make the playoffs. We’ve got a lot of work to do before then, but it’s a good start.”

In the meantime, let’s take a look at what the Blues are doing well during their five-game winning streak.


1. Leddy-Parayko locking down

In the five games, the Blues’ top defensive pair of Nick Leddy and Colton Parayko have been workhorses. According to Natural Stat Trick, they’ve been on the ice for 91 minutes and 54 seconds of five-on-five ice time, and during that time the Blues have scored five goals and given up just three.

Parayko gets a lot of credit, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but how about a little love for Leddy? He scored a goal in Sunday’s win, and though he was a minus-1 in the game, it was just the second time in the last 17 games that he finished with a minus.

“He’s an unreal player — a great skater, passer, shooter and he scored tonight,” Parayko said. “He’s just a really well-rounded player, and I’m lucky to play with him.”

Now for Parayko. He had another assist in 24:06 of ice time Sunday, following a road trip in which he logged 25:17 at Calgary, 26:55 at Vancouver and 25:13 against Seattle.

Under former coach Craig Berube, Parayko averaged 23:15 of ice time per game, and under Bannister, he’s averaged 24:39 for a jump of 1:24 per game.

“The biggest thing that stands out to me is the pressure he’s been under and the players that he’s playing against and being able to defend against them,” Bannister said. “He’s been breaking the puck out, at times, by himself just with two or three guys on top of him, being able to skate out of pressure and being able to make a play to our forwards and then get up in the rush. He’s been impressive since I’ve been here.”

2. Schenn coming alive

Schenn was the overtime hero Sunday for the second time in two games, after netting the OT winner against Vancouver.

The captain went 17 games without a goal and 12 games without a point and now he has five goals and 11 points in his last 10 games. He has points in five straight games and nine of his last 10.

“Tough 30 games to start the year for me, and it just feels nice to contribute,” Schenn said. “I feel like I’m starting to build my game right now. I’m just having a ton of fun playing with my linemates. When I’m at my best, I’m playing hard, I’m simplifying, trying not to do too much. I don’t feel like I loved my game tonight. But I was able to help the team.”

In addition to Schenn’s contributions is the emergence of the Blues’ second line with Brandon Saad and Jake Neighbours on Schenn’s wings. The offense has another threat beyond the top line of Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas and Kyrou.

Saad had two goals at Calgary, including the game-winner with under a minute left in regulation, and Neighbours had a goal and assist against Vancouver.

“You just can’t rely on the big dogs every night to get it done,” Schenn said. “We feel like the three of us don’t play a flashy game, but when we’re simple and when we’re hard, we’re effective. We’ve had a pretty good stretch here, and we enjoy playing with each other.”

3. Binnington and Hofer electric in net

The goalie tandem of Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer has backstopped the Blues to a perfect record in their last five games with a collective save percentage of .919.

Binnington is 3-0 in the stretch, stopping 83 on 89 shots (.933) with one shutout against Washington. Hofer got the start on Sunday and improved to 2-0 in the stretch, stopping 53 of 59 shots (.908)

“They’ve been keeping us in every game, essentially,” Parayko said. “It’s fun to play in front of them. They make some big saves, great timing saves too, so just to have that confidence that we have those two guys behind us has been great for our group. They’re a big part of why we have five (wins) in a row.”

In the three overtime games, Binnington and Hofer have only been asked to make two saves combined, but they’ve made them, including Hofer’s dandy on Vancouver’s Filip Hronek just prior to Schenn’s OT winner against the Canucks.

“They’re making incredible saves,” Schenn said. “They’re great every night for us.”

4. Coming from behind

When trailing after two periods this season, the Blues had a record of 0-13 under Berube. Under Bannister, they’re 3-5.

And in the team’s five-game winning streak, that resiliency has shown, erasing a total of six deficits — two in Calgary, two in Seattle and two against L.A.

“I think if we go down one or two goals now, our mindset is not like, ‘Oh damn, we’re probably going to lose this game,’” Kyrou said. “It’s like, ‘We’re going to bring it back. We’re going to win this game. Or we’re going to tie it up and bring it to overtime and win it.’”

In the five-game winning streak, the Blues have combined to outscore their opponents 8-3 in the third period and overtime. There’s only been one team — one player, in fact — score against them in the third period or overtime, and that was Vancouver’s Pius Suter, who had a hat trick in the third period.

“We’re putting ourselves in a position where we’re not out of games,” Bannister said. “We’re always in games right now. I think that’s a belief … whether we’re tied, ahead or down one (goal), we have an opportunity to come out of this with a win or a point.

“The things that we can control, we’re starting to meet the standards on that. Whether that’s a mindset with our group, we’re starting to see results with that and with the results comes confidence and belief within the core group of the team.”

5. Power play

On a day that the power play went 1-for-6 and surrendered a short-handed goal to L.A., it’s hard to say that it’s a superlative. But overall, the unit has been good during the five-game winning streak, particularly in coming up with a few timely goals.

The power play was 4-for-8 in the Blues’ four games prior to Sunday, and despite going 1-for-6 against the Kings, everyone in St. Louis will take 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) after what we’ve seen this season.

Furthermore, as mentioned, they’ve been timely goals when you look back to Thomas’ power-play goal late in the second period in Seattle that set up the Blues’ comeback, or Buchnevich’s second-period PP goal Sunday that tied the score, 2-2.

“Yeah, it was big,” Bannister said of Buchnevich’s goal. “Obviously we would like to see ourselves score in the third period when we had those opportunities. The negative was the short-handed goal. (But) there were some good things.”

(Photo of Brayden Schenn after scoring the game-winning goal against the Kings: Jeff Le / USA Today)





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