Blues' Steen still striving to improve

January 29, 2014 

— A scary thought for NHL goaltenders is that Alexander Steen insists that he has plenty of room for improvement.

Steen adds to his career high with each goal he scores and the St. Louis Blues forward collected No. 27 on Tuesday in a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

"To be honest, I'm expecting more of myself," said Steen, who missed 11 games with a concussion and last weekend missed part of the New York Rangers game with a lower-body injury. "I think there's a few notches left to get to where I was. I'm trying. I still feel like there's a couple more notches to go.

"I feel that there's more to my game than I'm doing right now."

With five games remaining before he leaves for Sochi, Russia, to play for Sweden at the Winter Olympics, Steen continues building upon his best NHL season.

The 29-year-old forward's 27 goals tie him for fourth in the NHL and for the season, he has 45 points in 41 games.

He also has three goals and seven points during a five-game scoring outburst. His goal Tuesday also was his team-leading seventh game-winning goal, the second-highest total in the league.

"He is a very dynamic player," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the Associated Press. "For him to get to the elite level where he was before, I think he just has to learn to get back to the right balance between reward and risk.

"He had an unbelievable balance of reward and risk going before he got hurt."

Steen said experience with a previous concussion has taught him a lot.

"Like anything, you go by how you feel and what the doctors say," he said. "Right now, I feel pretty good health-wise. I'm starting to feel better and better."

So are the Blues (36-11-5, 77 points), who have won three straight and find themselves tied in overall points with Chicago (32-10-13, 77 points) atop the Central Division.

Both teams are tied for second in the Western Conference behind Anaheim (39-11-5, 83 points). The Blues have played three fewer games than both teams.

Halak remains ablaze

Despite persistent rumors that the Blues could be interested in trading for Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak has quietly fashioned himself another hot streak.

Halak turned in his fourth shutout Tuesday and is 7-1-1 in his last nine starts with a 1.77 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

He and backup Brian Elliott lead the league with a combined seven shutouts. Still only 28, Halak is 23-7-3 this season with a 2.23 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Halak, just four wins away from his career high achieved with the Blues in 2010-11, ranks second in the league in shutouts. He also is seventh in wins and ninth in goals-against average.

Because of injuries, Halak has played in only two playoff games since joining the Blues in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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