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Blues' offense picking up steam

Blues' offense picking up steam

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CALGARY, Alberta • The Blues faced the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday, coming off consecutive five-goal games for the first time this season.

The Blues scored five or more goals just once in their first 45 games. But they’ve done it seven times in their last 25, including their last two. The uptick has jumped the club to No. 21 in the NHL at 2.54 goals per game.

“I’m seeing us be firmer in red zones offensively,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re more determined. We’re scoring a couple of goals a game that way.”

Patrik Berglund, who has scored four of his seven goals in the last 13 games, credited the Blues’ speed with the puck out of the defensive zone.

“We have a lot of energy when we go on the offense,” Berglund said. “We do get much more bodies and we’re more aggressive around the other team’s net.”

The Blues are perhaps moving too fast out of their zone for Hitchcock’s liking.

“One of the things we’ve been guilty of is that we’ve had so much focus on scoring more goals that we started to play defensively on the move again and we’re trying to get our guys to just stop and compete rather than playing on the move,” he said. “It’s the balance and if we can get balanced in both zones equally, it’ll be good for us.”

LINEUP CHANGE

The Blues made one swap with their forwards against Calgary, substituting Magnus Paajarvi in the lineup for Dmitrij Jaskin.

Paajarvi, who had been a healthy scratch in the club’s last four games, played on a line with Berglund in the middle and David Backes on the right.

“I’ve been playing well with Bergie and Backes for a lot of games, so I’m confident with those guys and I think they’re confident with me,” Paajarvi said. “It’s just a line that works, I think. My speed, their size and puck control.”

Jaskin has just three points (two goals, one assist) in his last 22 games.

“We need that line to be a better line,” Hitchcock said. “We’re going to try to use ‘Bergie’ as much as we can at center. Backes has done a great job playing right wing. But we need the line to be a better line. They need to have bigger impact in the game.”

NO. 1 STAR

Vladimir Tarasenko has been chosen the league’s No. 1 star for his production last week, when he had three goals and three assists in four games. The club went 4-0 in wins over Dallas, Anaheim, Chicago and Minnesota.

Tarasenko had two goals, including an empty-netter, in a 5-2 victory over the Ducks and followed it up with another in a 5-4 overtime win over the Stars. He now has 33 this season, which puts him in a tie for fifth in the league.

“I think our line started playing way better with me, Jaden and Jori,” Tarasenko said. “Without them, I couldn’t make it, especially with the opponents we had last week.”

This marks the second time Tarasenko has been honored by the NHL in 2015-16. He was the No. 3 star of the week in October.

BLUENOTES

The healthy scratches Monday were Jaskin and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. ... Injured players Alexander Steen, Brian Elliott and Steve Ott were each on the ice with the team for the morning skate.

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Jeremy Rutherford is the lead Blues beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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