The Pittsburgh Penguins and Blues will carry four-game losing streaks and mounting frustration into their matchup on Saturday in St. Louis.
The Penguins are coming off a dispiriting 7-2 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. The Blues will host the Penguins after squandering a 2-0 lead in Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
The Penguins have been outscored 21-10 during their four-game downturn. The Blues have been outscored 18-6 during their four-game skid (0-3-1).
“It’s frustrating right now,” said Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who scored his team’s two goals on Thursday. “We’re not playing the way we were supposed to play. We get discouraged pretty quick. We have to bring more emotion and find a way, whatever it is.
“We’ll have to find a way to win. It’s the little details. We should not look to win the game by a big score or try to outscore teams. We should just win by playing a simple game and defend hard. We have so much skill up front that we’ll find a way to score goals.”
While Eastern Conference rivals Toronto, Boston and the New York Rangers and Islanders have added talent ahead of the trade deadline, the Penguins have stood pat.
“Well, our roster is our roster,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “So, we have what we have, and we’re trying to put the best combinations on the ice that we think gives us the best chance to win. That’s the criteria that I’ve always utilized for our coaching staff. We ask that question every day. We drill down the details, and then we put forward the lineup on the ice that we think gives us the best chance to win.”
The Blues have been selling off talent ahead of the trade deadline.
“A lot of our best players are not doing the job,” Blues coach Craig Berube said after Thursday’s loss. “I don’t know; you have to ask them. I guess they don’t care about the team. I don’t know. Not sure why.”
Rookie forward Alexey Toropchenko has been one of the team’s bright spots. He has played hard in his checking role and scored a shorthanded goal against the Canucks.
But many teammates have lagged behind after the trades that sent winger Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the Rangers and captain Ryan O’Reilly and forward Noel Acciari to the Maple Leafs.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but especially for fans, you cannot play like that,” Toropchenko said. “You need to play for fans, for yourself, for everybody from the team. The team is just one family. It’s not only about one guy. You need to be a part of it, and to show some respect to each other.
“You’re not playing somewhere else in a beer league or something like that. You need to show something. You need to show heart, character and to be strong everywhere.”
The Blues got injured forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad back against the Canucks, but defenseman Torey Krug returned to the shelf with a lower-body injury.
The Penguins won the previous game between these team 6-2 on Dec. 1. Kasperi Kapanen notched a hat trick for Pittsburgh but has scored just twice since then.
–Field Level Media