TORONTO — Craig Berube liked the Vince Dunn-Justin Faulk pairing enough against Dallas that he did it again Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“You got lefty-righty, both of them move the puck well,” Berube said. “In the offensive zone they create quite a bit with their shot and their elusiveness.”
Dunn, the lefty, thinks their games have some similarities. When it comes to offensive production a year ago, they were almost identical. Dunn had 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points for the Blues. Faulk had 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Neither figured in the scoring Monday as the Blues won 3-2, but Faulk was plus-2 and Dunn was plus-1.
“It’s two guys that know how each other thinks,” Dunn said. “We like to jump up in the play and make offensive plays. But I think on the other end of things we’re both pretty responsible with each other and we got each other’s back when it comes to defensive things.”
Faulk was paired with Alex Pietrangelo in the opener, against Washington, a righty-righty tandem on defense.
Dunn realizes it might take a while to develop chemistry with Faulk, but obviously doesn’t know how long they’ll line up together.
“Last year, the ‘D’ pairings weren’t always so stable, there was a lot of changes,” Dunn said. “And looks like it’s going to be that way this year maybe. I think we’re always prepared for whoever we’re gonna be playing with and we just need to be able to adapt.”
During the 2018-19 regular season alone, the Blues had 30 defensemen pairings. Dunn most often was teamed with Robert Bortuzzo (32 times), followed by Alex Pietrangelo (21 times). He was paired with six other defensemen for eight games or less.
For the second consecutive game, forward Robert Thomas was out of the lineup because of what the team is calling an upper-body injury. Thomas is coming off wrist surgery last June. After playing in one exhibition game, he played in the season opener — but that’s it so far.
Thomas accompanied the Blues to Toronto but didn’t practice with the team Monday morning, instead skating on his own afterward. As a result Tyler Bozak centered a line with Robby Fabbri and Zach Sanford on the wings for the second straight game, a group that did not produce any points Monday.
That’s two new wingers on a line that included Pat Maroon (now with Tampa Bay) and Thomas for much of last season.
“Obviously it takes a little time to find that chemistry with new guys,” Bozak said. “But I thought (against Dallas) we started to figure out a little as the game went on, kind of find out where each other were gonna be on the ice. We’ve been working together in practice and getting better in that aspect. So hopefully we can take another step forward as a line.”
With a highly skilled Maple Leafs team that has been ousted each of the past three seasons in the opening round of the playoffs, the Toronto-area media was curious to know what the difference was for St. Louis last season in winning the Stanley Cup.
“Sticking together as a group,” Pietrangelo said. “Using everybody. Keeping an even keel. Those are big things. We could have got disjointed a lot as the season went on. But when you've got a group that has chemistry, you can’t replace that.
“That’s really what it was. We believed in each other. And it sounds, I guess, cliche’, cheesy, whatever you want to say. But that’s true. When things weren’t going the right way, this group stuck together. They always have. That’s why we’ve been able to do what we’ve done.”
• After spending his first nine seasons in Toronto, Monday’s game marked the second “homecoming” here for Bozak since joining the Blues in free agency before last season.
• Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Mackenzie MacEachern were healthy scratches for the Blues.
• Monday’s game was the 500th of Vladimir Tarasenko’s NHL career, all with the Blues. He had an assist.