The St. Louis Blues are in the thick of the competition for the NHL’s top record, but coach Ken Hitchcock isn’t entirely pleased with his team’s performance of late.
They’ll try to put forth a more complete effort Tuesday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers, who continue a particularly challenging portion of their schedule.
St. Louis (50-17-7) is atop the Western Conference but trails Boston by three points for the most in the league. The Blues had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 4-2 loss to Dallas on Saturday, marking just their sixth home loss in regulation and first since Jan. 18 against Anaheim.
Alexander Steen accounted for both the team’s goals on power plays and has three goals and four assists over his last four contests. He hasn’t scored in his last nine matchups with Philadelphia. David Backes notched his 29th assist on Steen’s second goal, extending his point streak to four games, but he’s without a point in his last four games against the Flyers.
The Blues’ top line of Steen, Backes and T.J. Oshie has accounted for 11 of the club’s 14 goals during a 3-3-0 stretch.
"What we are right now is too inconsistent," Hitchcock said. "We’ve got too many players who are having good games and then are following it up with poor games. Have to send a few messages here in the next couple games and see if we can get everybody’s attention."
St. Louis’ power play – which ranks near the top of the league with a 20.9 percentage – has five goals on 12 chances over the last three contests. However, Philadelphia held that unit in check in a 4-1 home victory on March 22, killing off six man-advantage opportunities for the Blues.
The Flyers (39-27-8) are in the midst of a stretch that pits them against teams currently in playoff position 10 times in a span of 12 games, making it challenging to catch the New York Rangers, who own a two-point edge for second place in the Metropolitan Division. However, they’ll still have two games in hand on the Rangers after Tuesday’s games.
Sunday’s 4-3 shootout home loss to Boston was Philadelphia’s third in four games. The Flyers’ 52 shots were their most since recording 55 in a 5-4 win at Winnipeg on Feb. 21, 2012, and their most in a losing effort since a 7-4 defeat to Toronto on Feb. 13, 1988.
Vincent Lecavalier scored his second goal of the game with 25 seconds remaining with the extra attacker to force overtime, but Philadelphia fell to 3-6 in shootouts.
Claude Giroux’s point streak was snapped at nine games. He had two goals and 12 assists during that stretch.
"I thought our team competed real hard," coach Craig Berube said. "They had an attitude today that they were going to show them something and I think they did. I know the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but we attacked and put a lot of pucks at the net."
Lecavalier, who recorded his 400th career goal in the first period, also scored in Friday’s 4-2 victory against Toronto in his first game since being dropped to the fourth line. He has seven assists and a goal over his last seven games versus St. Louis. Jakub Voracek has six goals and six assists in his last 10 matchups with the Blues.
Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is day-to-day with an upper-body injury after back-to-back two-point performances.
St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller is 1-5-1 with a 3.77 goals-against average in his last eight appearances against Philadelphia.