A Stanley Cup letdown for the St. Louis Blues would have been understandable. Instead, the defending champions are rolling along as they ready to continue their road trip Saturday night against the Calgary Flames.
The Western Conference leaders are riding a six-game winning streak and are victorious in eight of nine contests.
Had the Blues struggled out of the gate due to the fatigue factor of last spring’s playoff run or even diminished expectations — remember, this was a squad last in the league midway through the 2018-19 campaign — almost nobody would have batted an eye. Instead, they’re proving that Stanley Cup title was no fluke.
“The six-game win streak, yeah, it’s great,” goalie Jake Allen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now. We’ll take the points, but like I said before, we’re finding ways to win games. I think last year at the start of the year, we were finding ways to lose games. Right now we’re just trying to find ways to win.”
Early in the season, the Blues blew two-goal leads and ended up losing in extra time on three occasions. Imagine their record if they held on to win those games. On the other side of the coin, though, they’re becoming the masters of comeback wins. Eight of their 11 wins this season have come despite trailing.
Not all the news with the Blues is good, though. Forward Alexander Steen suffered a high left-ankle sprain in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers and was placed on injured reserve. He is expected to miss at least a month. It paves the way for Jacob de la Rose, acquired this week via trade from the Detroit Red Wings, to make his Blues debut.
The Flames appear to be finding their form just in time for a clash with the defending champs. Thanks to a resounding 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, Calgary has won four of five games. The Flames, who were the Western Conference’s top squad during the 2018-19 regular season, have sputtered so far this season, but put on a dominating display against the Devils.
“That was the identity we gotta play to,” said defenseman Noah Hanifin, who had a three-point game against the Devils. “I thought we kept it simple. We got pucks in deep, and we forechecked well tonight which is why I thought we had a lot of offensive chances and got pucks behind their d-men. It was a good night all around for us.”
While there are a few reasons to believe the Flames are on track — among them the fact their power play has scored twice in each of the last two games — the biggest would be how they kept control of the game against New Jersey.
“Over the last few weeks here we’ve gone into a lot of third periods with some leads and found a way to lose games,” center Mikael Backlund said. “It was a big challenge for us tonight and I thought we did really well in the third … keep pushing. It was a big step for our team to play a full, solid 60 minutes. I don’t know if we’ve done that at all this year. So, was nice to see all the players get involved in playing well.”
–Field Level Media