AP NEWS

Blues don’t have answers for inept power play

April 7, 2017

As well as the Blues have played recently — games with Colorado and Winnipeg aside — there’s been one glaring weakness: Their power play has been awful.

Over the past eight games, the Blues have scored just one power play goal in 20 opportunities, and that was an empty-net goal. Arizona took a penalty within the final two minutes but still pulled its goalie to try to tie the score; David Perron scored.

In some ways, it’s been worse than bad. Not only is the power play not scoring goals, it’s barely getting shots on goal and, because of that, not building any momentum. In fact, it’s been almost the opposite. By the time the power play is over, it’s the opposing team that’s getting a lift.

There wasn’t any progress Tuesday against Winnipeg. Coach Mike Yeo put Jori Lehtera on the unit in hope of improving how they did on faceoffs, so they could get more ice time. On the one power play the Blues had, they lost the first faceoff and had to get the puck back, only to be offside entering the zone. They lost that next faceoff and it took them more than 50 seconds to actually get the puck into the Winnipeg zone.

“It’s not what I was looking for,” Yeo said Wednesday. “I would expect us to have a full skate tomorrow. That’s why we didn’t work it today, we’ll work it in the morning. We have to get better. We have to feel good about that. That’s another element and another part of our game that we want to make sure we feel good about going into the playoffs.

“We’ve had a really good power play all season long, this is a stretch it hasn’t been good enough. … It’s not going to turn by us scoring a goal. We have to get doing the little things right, the faceoffs, if we lose a faceoff it should be real tough for them to get the puck down the ice. If we have the right recovery methods, if we have to break out, we have the right routes, the right timing, the right execution. It’s all those little things that add up to scoring a goal. If we do those things then we’ll be fine.”

“In playoffs, (power plays) are hard to come by,” said captain Alex Pietrangelo. “You may only get one opportunity a game. You’ve got to make sure you find a way to capitalize.”

LEHTERA’S RETURN

After missing 12 games with a concussion, Lehtera, playing left wing instead of center, scored against Winnipeg. He played 15:03 and won two of six faceoffs.

“It looked like he had been out for a little bit,” Yeo said. “Obviously he got a goal, but I think as the game went on he started to get a little more comfortable with it. It’s going to take him a little time; he’s been out for a month here.”

In practice Wednesday, Yeo had Lehtera back at center.

BLUENOTES

The Blues had a quick practice Wednesday before flying to Florida. Alexander Steen, who was taking a maintenance day, was the only healthy player not on the ice. Nail Yakupov, who Yeo said has been dinged up, started the practice but came off the ice after 10 minutes. … Carl Gunnarsson was on the ice but didn’t take a regular shift as Petteri Lindbohm skated with Jordan Schmaltz. “He looked good today and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Yeo said. If Gunnarsson is ready to play, the Blues will have to send Lindbohm back to the minors since he was called up on emergency conditions because the team had fewer than six healthy defensemen. … Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is not on the trip. … Winnipeg’s third goal Tuesday went in off two Blues. It hit Kyle Brodziak in the leg, then hit Jay Bouwmeester in the chest before looping high over Jake Allen’s head and into the goal. “I looked back and saw it in the air, and thought, ‘Oh no,’” Brodziak said. “We were scrambling a little before that. You can’t blame the bad bounce. There were plays that led up to it. It wasn’t a great one.”