Backes-Oshie-Steen line playing ‘terrific’ for red-hot Blues
The St. Louis Blues are 6-0-1 in their last seven and have scored an impressive 33 goals over that stretch. A big reason for the offensive output? The play of the club’s top line, featuring T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen and team captain David Backes.
“They’re a terrific line when they play predictable to each other,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said, per the Post-Dispatch. “The look faster when they play that way, they are faster, and you’ve got to have a real disciplined group of five to play against them because they’re willing to work for that one good chance and not give you very much in the meantime.
“My feeling is, with their work ethic, if they stay with it, it’s going to turn out fine.”
Combined, the trio has scored 49 points since being reunited 11 games ago. Steen is currently on a nine-game point streak, Backes has seven goals in his last six and Oshie 12 points in eight games in January. What’s frightening about this is none of them sit atop the Blues’ scoring board; the top two spots belong to Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk.
So it comes as no surprise, then, to see St. Louis sitting second in the NHL with 3.1 goals per game.
The Blues also boast the NHL’s top power play, something we wrote about last week. That, along with the recent offensive surge, are two things St. Louis will need to carry over to the postseason in order to avoid another early exit; against Chicago last spring, the Blues could only muster five goals over the final four games of their opening-round loss and their power play finished a woeful 2-for-29 for the series.
Part of avoiding a repeat will be the continued success between Backes, Steen and Oshie -- a unit the captain hopes Hitchcock will keep in place.
“I think he realizes when we’re playing well, when we’re doing all the little things, it’s leading by example,” Backes explained. “The rest of the other guys seem to follow.”