NASHVILLE – If there is one blemish on the St. Louis Blues’ breakout season, it’s their road record. Outside of Detroit, the Blues have been the league’s top team on home ice. But their 10-13-3 mark away from home is something they would like to fix as they begin a stretch where they will play 13 of their next 16 contests on the road.
“We need to start to turn things around on the road and form an identity on the road like the one we have at home,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said before Thursday’s game in Nashville.
The Blues are 26-4-4 at home this season, which is a big reason why they are in contention for the Central Division title after missing the playoffs the past two seasons. But with the playoffs looming, the locker room knows they have to improve on the road.
“We don’t have the crowd with us anymore. That’s a big factor at home is that we can feed off our crowd when things are turning south a little bit,” Shattenkirk said.
On the road this season, the Blues have averaged less than two goals per game and boast a -9 goal differential. It has been a completely story at home, where they are scoring almost three goals per game with a +44 goal differential. The team will close out the season with 15 of their final 22 games played away from Scottrade Center.
“If you look at our team now, if we were going into the playoffs we’d have some serious problems without being able to play our game on the road,” Shattenkirk said. “It will be good for us in the last month or so to get out here and play a ton of road games and get a feel for how we need to play on the road in the playoffs.”
In recent road games the Blues have either let a late lead slip away or they’ve been unable to draw even and earn an extra point. Put simply, they haven’t finished their opportunities.
“We just need to play our game. When we do that and play with 20 guys together, we’re fine. It’s up to us to do the job,” David Perron said. “Home or road, it doesn’t matter what it is; this is the NHL. If you look at the road record of most teams, it’s not as good as their home record. It’s not an excuse; we just have to bear down here.”
Ken Hitchcock’s club will play their next six games on the road, followed by a separate seven-game road trip in mid-March. It will be a good challenge for the Blues to turn around their play on the road as they try to hunt down Detroit and hang on to home-ice advantage in the first round.
“We don’t have any choice now,” Shattenkirk said. “(These road games) are going to hit us head on and we have to be ready to do something about it.”Photo credit: Getty Images