Blues put NHL’s only home unbeaten record on line vs. Flyers
ST. LOUIS — The first month of the season could not have gone much better for the St. Louis Blues, but their success comes with a warning from coach Mike Yeo.
It is just the start, Yeo reminded his players, and it won’t mean anything months from now if they don’t continue to play well.
The Blues tied a franchise record with 10 wins in October, matching the best starts in team history at 10-2-1. They will open their November schedule Thursday night by hosting the Philadelphia Flyers.
St. Louis, riding a 6-0-1 streak, will try to remain the league’s only team that has not lost a home game (5-0-0).
“We’re a good team,” Yeo said after the Blues’ latest win Monday night, 4-2 over the Los Angeles Kings. “This is a competitive group, it’s a group that’s fun to coach. They respond, they prepare the right way, they take it as a challenge. You go against good hockey teams and they want that challenge. They want that opportunity to go out and win that game.
“We’ve still got a long, difficult road ahead of us here. We haven’t accomplished anything yet except for a good start. That can leave us very quickly. What we have to make sure of now is no complacency sneaks in, that we stay mindful of the things we need to do, and even before that with the preparation to make sure we stay that good team.”
The Blues’ success has come through solid goaltending, led by Jake Allen, a breakout start for Jaden Schwartz (eight goals, nine assists) and surprising offensive production from their defensemen, who have combined to score 14 goals.
“We’re relaxed, have confidence instilled in us right now,” Allen said. “I think we’re just finding ways to win games. It’s fun to watch from my end. Guys are blocking shots, we’re doing everything. It’s the same stuff we comment on every game. We’re just consistently doing it, and I think the more consistent you are, the better chance you’re going to win.”
One important part of the team’s performance has been that the Blues have allowed only four goals combined in the first period of their 13 games, just two in the past nine games. That has allowed them to play with a lead most of the time instead of having to chase games.
“We’ve just been staying with our game,” St. Louis defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. “We’re a confident group. It doesn’t matter if it’s special teams, five-on-five, we keep playing our game. We’ve got the confidence that we’re going to break the other team down.”
While the Blues were enjoying a day off Wednesday, the Flyers were playing in Chicago. Philadelphia gave up two goals 20 seconds apart in the second period and lost 3-0 to the Blackhawks.
It was the third time in their 13 games the Flyers were shut out, and they fell to 1-3-1 in their last five games.
“I thought we had a really good effort from everybody in the lineup,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after the loss at Chicago. “I really can’t find one guy that was below the bar in terms of effort tonight.”
The Thursday game will be the first against his former team for Jori Lehtera, who the Blues traded to the Flyers over the summer for forward Brayden Schenn, who also will oppose his old team.
“I’m excited to go there,” Lehtera told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There’s a lot of memories from there — good games, conference finals, a hat trick, playing in my first NHL game. A lot of memories.”