Avalanche look to get back on track vs. Blues (Jan 25, 2018)

BY AP • January 24, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues made it 2-for-2 on Tuesday night.

For the second time in a month, Blues coach Mike Yeo went with an unconventional 11-7 lineup (11 forwards, 7 defensemen). For the second time, it yielded a victory in a 3-0 shutout of Ottawa.

Yeo last went with the 11-7 on Dec. 30, a 3-2 win over Carolina. That lineup was made out of necessity, an attempt to protect defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who was returning from a lower body injury.

The latest lineup came after a 5-2 setback to Arizona on Saturday, arguably the Blues' worse loss of the season.

"When we did it last time, I liked the response we got from the group of our forwards," Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They seemed to really embrace the idea of having some extra opportunity there and seemed to be real engaged, not just for the expected shifts that they were going to get. You come back to the bench and have to be ready, you don't know if you're going (back) at any time, so it seems to keep you really engaged."

Whether it was the lineup or the tough practices that followed the Arizona loss, the Blues responded.

"We had a locker room full of angry players, frustrated," goalie Carter Hutton told the Post-Dispatch. "We talked about it. It's one thing to lose; it's hard to win in this league and you're going to lose games. But it's the way you lose sometimes. We weren't happy about that and I think the message is clear."

The 11-7 formation is most likely a one-game solution, especially with the expected return of forward Jaden Schwartz to the lineup as the Blues host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

Schwartz had scored 35 points in 30 games before taking a puck off of his foot on Dec. 9. St. Louis is 9-10-1 without him. He has been medically cleared to play, but Schwartz will decide if he's ready to go against Colorado.

"We have a spot in our lineup for him when he's ready to go," Yeo told 590AM after Wednesday's optional skate.

The Avalanche are coming off a 4-2 loss at Montreal on Tuesday night, which snapped the team's 10-game winning streak.

Colorado trailed for 94 seconds during the streak and had outscored their opponents 41-16 in the 10 games. It is the longest winning streak in the NHL this season and was the second-longest in team history.

"It was a good run, it's over, you've got to move on," Colorado coach Jared Bednar told NHL.com. "I don't know, it looked like we were out of gas tonight. That's what it looked like, that's how we played."

The Blues are 14-3-3 in their last 20 games against the Avalanche, but Colorado is hungry to keep the winning going.

"We can't get too down, obviously," Avalanche goalie Jonathan Bernier told the Denver Post. "Everybody is a little sour right now. But we have a big game in St. Louis (Thursday). We got to make sure we finish strong before the all-star (break)."

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