Blues hope to answer wake-up call vs. Sharks

NHL Hockey

The St. Louis Blues will seek a bounce-back performance when they host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

After opening their season with a 4-1 victory against Colorado on Wednesday, the Blues absorbed an 8-0 drubbing from the Avalanche two nights later.

“It’s a wake-up call for us,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said, who added that the team “embarrassed ourselves” in the loss.

“That was very disappointing. The thing is, we came into the game and you could tell we just didn’t have the detail in. The little things steamrolled into big things,”O’Reilly said.

The Sharks also split their first two games on the road, earning a 4-3 shootout victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday before dropping a 5-3 decision in the rematch two days later.

San Jose coach Bob Boughner saw a lot to like in that loss Saturday.

“I thought we played better structure and better as a team … than we did in the first game,” Boughner said. “Structurally and detail-wise, I thought we were better. We spent a lot more time in their end; we played a little faster.”

Conversely, Blues coach Craig Berube saw plenty to dislike in his team’s loss.

“We didn’t come out with enough effort,” Berube said. “Obviously, they had way more urgency in the game. We escaped the first period, but it never got better. We talked about it. (But) we just didn’t compete hard enough in a lot of areas. We lost puck battles. I could go on and on.”

Mike Hoffman missed the Blues’ opener due to visa issues, then he managed two shots on goal while earning a minus-1 rating in 20 shifts during his debut with the team. He signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Blues right before the season.

In the Blues’ opener, Oskar Sundqvist scored twice while filling in for Hoffman on the No. 2 line with Robert Thomas and Jaden Schwartz.

The Blues may play without defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who sustained an apparent concussion Saturday. Carl Gunnarsson would be his likely replacement.

Also, Sammy Blais will be unavailable while finishing his two-game NHL suspension for a dangerous hit on Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews.

The Sharks have placed rookie John Leonard with center Tomas Hertl and winger Evander Kane on one scoring line. On another line, captain Logan Couture has centered Timo Meier and Kevin Lebanc.

Leonard is fitting in nicely with the top six forwards.

“He’s got speed, skill, and he’s still young, so I think he’s got a big future,” Hertl said.

Hertl (three goals, one assist), Kane (one goal, two assists), Meier (one goal, two assists) and Leonard (two assists) have enjoyed strong starts this season.

But the Sharks must win more faceoffs to sustain more pressure in the offensive zone. They lost 28 of 47 draws to the Coyotes on Saturday.

“Yeah, it’s something we’ve got to get way better at,” Boughner said. “It’s an important part of the game … we lost too many, and then you’re chasing the puck all night. It’s definitely a weakness of our team right now.”

–Field Level Media

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