The Blues were called for five penalties on Saturday against Montreal, matching their season high. They’ve done it three times, and all have come in their four-game winless streak. In the first four games, in which they went 3-0-1, they averaged two penalties per game.
Three of the penalties on Saturday were for tripping. The others were for kneeing and cross checking.
None of them sat well with coach Craig Berube, who gets credit for one of those recent penalties for yelling at the referee.
“Just don’t take them,” he said. “They’re frustration more than anything a lot of times. The frustration level is probably up in our lineup right now with certain things and people. We just have to get through that. That frustration doesn’t help anything.”
Alexander Steen started the season on the fourth line, moved up to the third line when Zach Sanford struggled and for the game Monday, against Colorado, will be on the second line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron.
“They played together last year for a little stretch,” Berube said. “It adds a little more structure to their line. That’s all. Just mixing it up a little bit.”
Sammy Blais, who had been in that spot, looks to be moving into Steen’s most recent spot on the third line. Berube said that’s no reflection on Blais’ game, though he’s had just one point in the past five games after starting the season with four points in three games. On Saturday, against Montreal, he had two shots on goal and four hits, the one part of his game that has been consistent.
“I think Sammy’s played well,” Berube said. “He started that game good against Montreal, he had a good opportunity, he was physical. I’m just moving some guys around and see if we can get a little more scoring up and down our lineup, that’s all.”
While three of the four lines have seen some tinkering this season, the top line, centered by Brayden Schenn and with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko on the wings, has stayed intact.
“They score almost every game, they produce,” Berube said. “They’ve played a lot of hockey together. I just don’t see a reason right now to mix that up.”
As for that line’s defense, Berube said, “It can be better. Offensive lines are not going to be as sound defensively, they’re going to happen sometimes, turnovers and things like that. They’re trying to make plays. So you have to live with that a little bit. You can’t stifle them. Can’t tell them they can’t make a play. Their job is to score and make plays. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Turn the puck over and go the other way. They were a plus line (Saturday) other than the empty-net goal.”
Carl Gunnarsson (lower body injury) sat out practice Sunday and won’t play Monday, meaning Robert Bortuzzo will be in. That means the Blues will be playing four righthanded defensemen, and on Saturday, it was Colton Parayko’s turn to play on the left side and will be again against Colorado.
“Someone has to play left,” Berube said. “I thought Parayko had a good game on the left side.”
• Asked if he still had confidence in goalie Jake Allen after Saturday’s game, which included a goal from just inside the blueline, Berube said, “Definitely. Lot of hockey” to be played.
• The Blues’ first four home games have been sellouts, announced at the arena’s capacity of 18,096.