Mon, 29 May 2023

Blues look to keep momentum vs. lowly Blackhawks

Field Level Media
30 Mar 2023, 10:40 GMT+10

The St. Louis Blues have built offensive chemistry with the late-season additions to their forward lines.

The Blues will try to extend their recent scoring surge when they face the reeling Blackhawks in Chicago on Thursday.

St. Louis (34-34-6, 74 points) is 5-1-1 in the last seven games and has outscored opponents 32-23.

"I think we're playing pretty well as a team of late," Blues forward Brandon Saad said. "We're having fun, not thinking too much, playing well as a team. Obviously, the contributions with the guys scoring, it's been a lot of fun as of late. We just want to keep building our game."

The Blues have gained significant production from newcomers Jakub Vrana (eight goals, two assists in 12 games), Sammy Blais (eight goals, nine assists in 23 games) and Kasperi Kapanen (seven goals, four assists in 15 games) since their arrival.

Vrana scored two goals, including the overtime winner, as the Blues edged the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 on Tuesday.

"He's been incredible," Saad said of Vrana. "He's a pure goal-scorer. It's fun to watch him out there. It's fun to play with him. When you're with him, you want to get him the puck and, obviously, you can see what he can do with scoring goals. Definitely happy to have him."

The Blackhawks (24-44-6, 54 points) bring a six-game losing streak into this game as they continue to look ahead to the draft lottery. They currently have the second-best odds of getting the first overall pick.

Chicago is coming off Tuesday's 4-1 home loss to the Dallas Stars. Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson graded the setback as one of their lesser efforts this season.

"I thought the first period, we just weren't great," Richardson said. "We couldn't string together two passes, just sloppy on our part. When that started like that, we just kind of stopped moving our feet. I think it was by the end of the second period, we had a couple of shifts that finally got us going and gave us a little life for the third period, and we skated a little bit. But obviously it was a little too late by then.

"That was one of the few games this year we didn't have the skating legs and we just didn't look good."

Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson snapped a 14-game goalless drought in against the Stars, but he didn't take much joy in it.

"It's been pretty difficult, obviously," Johnson said. "It's tough all the way around. You're not getting the results. The road trip we were on, it just kind of seems like everything is just building up and you have a lot on your shoulders right now, but we've got to relax a little bit. Instead of getting upset and mad, you kind of have to just find it within each other to play for each other and be happy and make things a little bit more fun."

The Blues have won two of their previous three game against the Blackhawks this season. Jordan Kyrou (two goals, two assists) has played well in the series for St. Louis, while Andreas Athanasiou (three goals) has starred for Chicago.

Blues forwards Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich will be out with upper-body injuries on Thursday. Buchnevich has the second-most goals on the team with 25.

--Field Level Media

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