ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues have posted shutouts in both home games this season and own the NHL's best home record since the start of last season.
Playing tight defense and paying attention to tiny details -- clearing pucks, forechecking, minimizing mistakes, finishing checks -- is a big reason why.
"Last year we talked about putting work in ahead of skill and that took some convincing," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "But if you look back on it, we won (early) against Chicago and Detroit with that attitude and I think it just reinforced the way we had to play the game to win.
"It became a little bit easier sell because we had success right away."
In winning their two home games by a combined score of 9-0 --6-0 over Detroit and 3-0 over Nashville -- the Blues allowed a total of 27 shots. Neither team had more than 14.
The Blues are now able to roll four lines and their talent level as improved to point where the top three are all scoring threats. The team's power-play is also through the roof, sitting second in the NHL with seven goals in 13 man-advantage opportunities (53.8 percent).
"We know we have enough skill to compete," Hitchcock said. "But we're starting to believe in the work part of the game, playing through people and playing with a sense of discipline."
Checking out Redden
Veteran defenseman Wade Redden played 17 minutes, 23 seconds on Thursday in his first NHL game in more than two seasons. Paired with top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Redden skated on 22 shifts and finished with one hit and two blocked shots.
"Really good," he said. "The players were really happy on the bench because he gets you out of trouble. You're boxed in and he makes a little play that gets you out of trouble.
"I thought he played very smooth and the only time he got in trouble was like anybody else who hasn't played at this level."
That's to be expected in Redden's situation. The 35-year-old defenseman didn't take part in training camp, but had been skating on his own with a junior team in Kelowna, British Columbia.
"When he got extended in a couple of shifts, he got a little bit tired out there," Hitchcock said. "But I thought he managed the game well and did a great job of helping us getting out of trouble."