Oscar Bortuzzo and Thomas Steen, fathers of Blues players Robert Bortuzzo and Alex Steen, watch the action during a game against the Florida Panthers back in 2019. (Photo courtesy: Michael Dwyer, AP Photo)
ST. LOUIS – It’s been a rough few weeks for the Blues, as everyone’s aware. The most recent 3-2 overtime loss to Dallas closed out a 1-1-1 homestand and a 2-5-2 record in their last nine games. In Jordan Binnington’s last seven starts, he’s allowed three or more goals in every game and posted a .870 save percentage. The only goals in the last two games have been scored by defensemen (namely one Colton Parayko).
The silver linings? The Blues are still 1st in the Central division by three points, seven of the next nine games are (at this exact moment, because who knows with the wacky Pacific) against non-playoff opponents, and the next two games on the road will be joined by the Blues’ dads.
It’s the fifth time in the last six years that the dads have joined the St. Louis Blues on a road trip, and the Blues are 7-1 with them along. Last year, the Blues came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Florida Panthers, then won a thrilling 1-0 overtime game against the Lightning. They were win no. 3 and 4 of what eventually manifested as the franchise-record 11-game win streak.
“I think they give you just a little extra motivation to play hard,” Blues goalie Jake Allen told stlouisblues.com. “They’re a big reason that we’re here in this position today, so we just play hard for them, have some fun, be a little bit more loose and relaxed. It’s a big highlight of their year – I know my dad looks forward to it every year. It’s a big deal for them.”
Considering the 7-1 record, and the context of their trip between this year and last year, it could be great timing for the Blues to get back to their game after recent struggles. Jeremy Rutherford writes in the Athletic that the Blues have responded to adversity already this season. After a four-game losing skid in early October, they won their next nine of ten games. After a 3-game losing streak in early December, they won eight straight.
Even after the 11-game win streak in 2019, they went 4-5-2 in the next 11 games, including a 2-0 shutout loss to the Senators. Similarly to right now, there was no fear in the Blues’ locker room, but players and coaches alike know now they have to get back to the “desperate” mindset that won them the Cup last season.
“Our mindset this time last year, it was a little different than I think it is now, I think,” Berube said. “We’ve got to get that mindset back. Last year, we were playing desperate hockey right now, and this year, maybe we need to bring in a little more urgency to our game.”
“At times maybe we’re coasting a little bit, hoping we’re going to win hockey games, and at the start of the year, we did what we needed to win hockey games,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “I just think it’s getting back to being desperate, being hungry and trying to win the division.”
Back to Business
Now, with just a 3-point lead in the Central, the “good-luck charm” dads might be the jumpstart the St. Louis Blues need to get rolling against a playoff contender in Vegas and a non-playoff contender in Anaheim. “Every single one of us knows that our dads put in a lot of time and effort when we were kids to help us get to this point,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said last season. “We don’t want to let them down.”
The Blues play the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night and Vegas on Thursday at 9pm CT.
Full list of the dads (and/or guests) that will travel with the team:
Kurt Allen (Jake Allen), Sebastien Blais (Sammy Blais), John Binnington (Jordan Binnington), Joseph Saliger (Troy Brouwer), Oscar Bortuzzo (Robert Bortuzzo), Dan Bouwmeester (Jay Bouwmeester), Mitch Bozak (Tyler Bozak), Anders de la Rose (Jacob de la Rose), John Dunn (Vince Dunn), David Faulk (Justin Faulk), Bjorn Gunnarsson (Carl Gunnarsson), Ron MacEachern (Mackenzie MacEachern), Brian O’Reilly (Ryan O’Reilly), Tom Parayko (Colton Parayko), Francois Perron (David Perron), Joe Pietrangelo (Alex Pietrangelo), Brett Glendye (Zach Sanford), Jeff Schenn (Brayden Schenn), Rick Schwartz (Jaden Schwartz), Thomas Steen (Alexander Steen), Scott Thomas (Robert Thomas)
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