Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Try to Put Record in Shape with Roadwork

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Try to Put Record in Shape with Roadwork

Article excerpt

The term "road hockey" conjures up many images.

To the youth of America, it means playing hockey in the middle of the street, dodging traffic, pedestrians and an occasional stray dog, while wearing sneakers or in-line skates.

In the National Hockey League, it means getting out of the house for several days or weeks, playing away from their home arena.

Players speak almost mystically about the experience and how it'll affect their game. They say, "It's good to get on the road." And why's that? "You play more of a road game."

A road game on the road. What a concept!

As silly as it sounds, there's something to it. A road game - the Blues will play five in the next nine days - forces a team to play a more disciplined, conservative game.

`Absolutely," Blues winger Glenn Anderson said. "You're not trying to impress your fans."

In fact, teams try to play exactly like the Detroit Red Wings played against the Blues on Sunday at Kiel Center. Detroit edged the Blues 2-1 before a record crowd of 20,297, playing the quintessential road game.

The Red Wings jumped on two early Blues penalties and had a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old. Then they concentrated on team defense, getting at least two players back, and often three and four, to shut down the Blues' attack.

Detroit limited the Blues to 23 shots - three each by top guns Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan. Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon faced only a handful of tough shots. Hull scored on a power play.

After the game, Blues coach Mike Keenan said Hull has been the only player scoring - six goals in five games - and that the Blues can't have a one-man show going into the playoffs.

"This has been typical of this franchise for years," Keenan said. "Brett Hull is still scoring, but in playoff hockey, he'll be double-shifted and double-teamed at all times. You can't rely on only one man."

Keenan scolded the Blues for not being as emotionally prepared for the game as Detroit.

Although the Blues are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games, Keenan said they failed a test by losing to the Red Wings in the battle for first place in the Western Conference. Detroit improved to 15-6-2 for 32 points, two ahead of second-place Chicago (14-9-2) and three ahead of the third-place Blues (14-7-1). …

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