Blues try to find rhythm as Devils visit

NHL Hockey

The St. Louis Blues will try to break out of a prolonged slump when they host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

The Blues are winless in their last five games (0-3-2) and they are 2-7-3 in their last 12. But they reestablished their puck-possession game during a frustrating 2-1 loss at Nashville on Sunday.

They outshot the Predators 39-24 and controlled extended stretches of that game.

“That was as good as we’ve played in quite some time, actually,” Blues forward Tyler Bozak said after the game. “You’ve got to get points, you’ve got to win, and unfortunately we didn’t do that tonight.”

The rebuilding Devils, who are 7-5-3 in their past 15 games, come to town on the heels of 4-3 shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. Young forwards Joey Anderson and Nick Merkley scored against the Blue Jackets and figure to play bigger roles down the stretch.

On Sunday, the Devils traded forward Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning and defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders for a combined return of first- and second-round draft picks, as well as minor league defenseman David Quenneville and forward prospect Nolan Foote.

That continued the rebuilding process that began with the trade of winger Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes and the firing of general manager Ray Shero and coach John Hynes earlier this season.

Coleman has scored 21 goals this season while playing a robust all-around game. He drew the attention of several bidding teams as the NHL’s trade deadline neared.

“Any time you trade a player, it’s extremely tough,” Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald said.

“There’s emotions; he’s a fan favorite. I know it’s not a popular thing to do as a manager. But we’re in a situation, where we’re at right now this season, and the return I felt for Blake — believe me, there were a lot of teams calling, he was a very popular player — I just felt it was too good to ignore.”

Greene, a widely respected team captain, will also be missed.

“It’s kind of an emotional day for all of us. We lost two big parts of our team,” Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood told reporters.

“Especially you know Andy, he’s been a leader here in the room for ever since I’ve been here, and someone I looked up to. He’s a piece of this room that I’m going to miss. Especially I’ll miss Coleman for sure, he’s a really good guy, we played together in Albany in my first year. I’ve watched him develop into the man he is today, which is pretty cool.”

The Blues got healthier with Sunday’s return of forward Oskar Sundqvist from injured reserve. He reunited with Alexander Steen and Ivan Barbashev on a tempo-setting forward line.

“That’s huge for our team obviously,” Bozak said of Sundqvist’s return.

“He stabilizes us a lot. He does everything out there, a ton of things offensively and defensively. I thought he did a really good job for his first game back. It’s never easy after you miss time to come back, especially in a game like this, in a back-to-back with a little bit of blood boiling and teams playing hard. I thought he did a real good job.”

This is the first meeting between the Blues and Devils this season.

–Field Level Media

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