Blues struggling away from home
After Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Chicago at the United Center, the Blues are averaging less than two goals per game on the road.
Andy McDonald scored the club’s lone goal, which has been a trend on the road lately. The team has netted just one goal in four of its last six road games and now has just 51 goals in 26 road games (1.96 per game).
“We’re a team right now that needs everybody to perform at a high level for us to win on the road,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The way we’re structured and the way we’re built, we don’t have offensive players to carry us. So if we have people who are not up to task, it reflects in our game. We get chances by volume and in that first nine rotation, when we’ve got weak players, as the game wears on, we get exposed and that’s what happened again today. We got exposed.”
The Blues are continuing to get exposed on the road. They are 2-4 in their last six games away from home, including an 0-4 mark in the games they’ve scored just once. They are 0-for-16 on the power play in their last eight road games.
“When you have one line going, it’s too easy for the other team to shut your offense down,” McDonald said. “So we really need contributions from our top six forwards. That’s going to be the key for us going forward. We’ve got great goaltending, team defense we’re really strong. It’s just going to be whether or not we can get that depth scoring we need — our top six and then the third line chipping in here and there for us. That’s going to be the key.”
McDonald’s line, which includes Patrik Berglund and Jamie Langenbrunner, was the best offensive unit Sunday. Those three had 13 of the Blues’ 30 shots, including six by McDonald.
“Andy McDonald’s line did a great job of sustaining pressure, getting pucks in there and battling at the front of the net,” David Backes said. “Scott Nichol’s line did the same, but the other two lines … not enough. When you don’t have even half your forwards going on the road, it’s going to be tough to win.”
The Blues will be at home in their next game, but may have a tough time putting the puck in the net, as the Boston Bruins and goaltender Tim Thomas come to town Wednesday.
—On Saturday, the Blues made NHL history by becoming the first team to have two goaltenders record at least six shutouts in a season. On Sunday, the club had a chance to make franchise history, tying for the most shutouts in one season (13, 1968-69). The Blues had a shutout through two periods, but Chicago, however, netted three goals in the third period, including one on an empty-net, and spoiled the opportunity in a 3-1 win over the Blues. Elliott lost a bid for his seventh shutout the Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith scored his 17th goal of the season, ending Elliott’s shutout streak at 159:01.
—Once again, the Blues failed to defeat a quality team on the road by not matching the opponent’s intensity in the third period. The Blues were 25-1-1 when leading after two periods this season, but couldn’t hold onto a 1-0 lead Sunday against the Blackhawks, eventually falling 3-1. On Dec. 27, the Blues blew a one-goal, third-period lead against Detroit before falling 3-2 to the Red Wings. “I don’t think we’ve learned the lesson … if we learned the lesson, we would have done it,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The only lesson you learn is you dig in harder. The difference is we had people who weren’t performers today from the start to the finish. It didn’t come up in the first period, but it came up in the second and the third. So they got pushed out.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We should be out of the zone before that, (but) we don’t make plays to get it out and then I put one in the back of our net. Such is life. (But) we need to be better all around and not have it go down to 10 minutes left, where we’re on our heels and they’re really bring the pressure to us.” — C David Backes, on Chicago’s game-winning goal deflecting in off his skate in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over the Blues.