Blues veterans do a lot better after chatting with General Manager Doug Armstrong

First time Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong addressed his club back in November, standing in their locker room, personally imploring them to take control of their season.

The effect was minimal.

It was the second time Armstrong made contact with the team over the weekend when the Blues realized they were going to move forward without hurting forwards. Ryan O’Reilly And the Vladimir Tarasenko. The GM was traveling to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, for the Junior World Championships, so he limited himself to communicating with them via text messages.

“The reality is some players just don’t play to the standards they set for themselves in their first 30 games, and their challenge is to bring their play back up to par and lead us,” Armstrong wrote. “I’m looking forward to seeing (Colton) Parayko, (Justin) Faulk and (Nick) Liddy on the backcourt, and (Brandon) Saad and (Braden) Sheen bring their games to the level they demand of themselves. I think once they do, we’ll all be able to. They have to be our best players now and they have to keep playing.”

So, texting might be the way forward from now on.

winning the penalty shootout 6-5 Toronto In their first game without the veteran forwards, Shane and Saad combined for three goals and one assist, while Parayko, Faulk and Ledy combined for 76 minutes and 43 seconds of ice time.

Shane had 11 shots into the net, scoring eight of the Blues’ 52 goals against the Maple Leafs and winning the game in a round four shootout.

Shane, the alternate leader of the team, who will perhaps take on a greater leadership role with O’Reilly’s exit, has been unable to speak out loud lately due to a virus that has softened his voice. However, his performance was not silenced.

“It’s so funny when he’s screaming out there — whispering — but his play definitely speaks for him,” Saad said, via Bally Sports Midwest, after the game.

After a conversation with Armstrong and before flying to Toronto, Sheen spoke with reporters Monday for one of the few times in recent weeks over the situation in his voice. Although you could hardly hear him, he was saying a lot.

“There’s a group of us that could play (better), including me,” Shin said. “We have to be able to produce and score goals and I will. This is an opportunity for me to raise my game. Obviously I have to take on a bigger role and, at the same time, not try to do anything special. I will focus on myself and play better and I am confident I can I’ll do it “.

He did, but he wasn’t the only one.

Going into Tuesday, Saad has scored six goals and three assists in 30 games. He had two goals against Toronto, including his second short-range goal of the season, which was the first goal in the high-scoring game.

The Blues led 2-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3, but four times after scoring on Tuesday missed a Maple Leafs goal over the next five minutes. Saad’s second goal of the game and tenth of the season provided a 5-3 lead that was erased.

But after a thoroughly enjoyable extra time – the second between the two teams in the last eight days – Jordan Bennington He came up with great saves in the penalty shootout before Shane won it.

“It’s the next guy mentality,” Saad said via Bali Sports Midwest. “We’re missing two players, we’re focused on our group and what we can do here, and that was a big win for us tonight.”

One of these following men was a novice Neighbor Jake, who was playing his first game since being called up from the AHL by Springfield (Mass.). He saw 11:27 of ice time and assisted on one goal for the Blues Josh Leveaux for a 4-2 lead.

Armstrong said earlier this week that expectations for the neighbors early in the season may have been a little high, and the AHL may have been a little more than the team was expecting going into the first round of 2020.

“Like most young players when they first go into the American League, maybe the league is a little better than they thought it was going to be,” said Armstrong. And then there’s a little bit of that personal feeling of, ‘I wish I wasn’t here. “

“(But) for the last month, he’s been one of the better players. I get reports after every (minor league) game, and (in) a lot of nights he’s the best player on the ice on either team. He’s coming off very well.”

However, Armstrong was somewhat concerned about bringing the prospect into this situation.

“Our team game is not at the level that allows us to integrate younger players,” he said. “When you have a strong team it’s easy to play a strong team game. But right now you just have to look at our goal difference, the first-class scoring chances we give up, and it’s a tough game for a young player to play because you’re under pressure all along.” Until we don’t take the pressure as a team, it’s going to be a tough group to play with and play for.”

The Blues were put under significant defensive pressure on Tuesday, giving up three goals on nine shots in the second period, followed by a string of tries early in the third. They got away, but it could be better.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Toronto had eight high-risk scoring opportunities and scored three goals in those eight opportunities.

Parayko, who had two assists, was on the ice, scoring three goals from five-to-five in the 24:38 minute mark of ice time. But Armstrong thinks he’s one of the veterans who will improve his game.

“He’s a better player than he’s shown this year, and he knows that,” said Armstrong. “I have great faith in him that he will find it. The players will go through their ups and downs and at the moment, we need our two experienced players to lead the pack.

“I know they can do it, and I know they want[to]do it because the standard they set for themselves is probably higher than the standard I set for them. They just have to reach those standards.”

Bennington allowed five goals on 25 shots and it wasn’t his sharpest this season, but he did lead exponentially on several occasions, particularly in penalties.

800 save percentage in the game wasn’t good, but it was better than the stats showed.

“I look at some of the last games Bennington has played in net and out of games with an average of 890 or . 910, and he’s the first star by a mile out of the number of chances we give up,” Armstrong said. “We have to defend better and be proud of the defense and we have to hold everyone accountable for the defense. Just look at the basic stats, our defensive game sucks, we need our best players to play better (defensively).”

The Blues have been better against the Maple Leafs than they have been for most of the season, which was interesting considering the circumstances. It was the type of game, suggested by someone on social media, that makes you want to come back and watch the next one. How long this lasts is unknown.

“We have to take back the joy of being a hardworking team that defends first and foremost and plays with the other guys,” said Armstrong. “If we do that, I think we can surprise people. If we don’t, it will be a long second half of the season.”

(Photo by Brayden Sheen and Robert Bortuzzo: Dan Hamilton/USA Today)

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