Wednesday Night Hockey: Berube’s Blues finding ways to get to net

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

One of the many issues that hindered the St. Louis Blues under Mike Yeo was their inability to have possession of the puck and create not just any scoring chances, but high-danger opportunities.

Under Yeo, the Blues ranked near the bottom in categories like Corsi-For (47.43 percent) and high-danger Corsi-For (47.95 percent). They threw a decent amount of shots on net through the first 18 games of the 2018-19 NHL season, but they weren’t really challenging other goaltenders.

Enter Berube, who has transformed the Blues from draft lottery seekers to playoff contenders with a 27-16-3 record since Yeo was turfed in November. 

“We control the puck in the offensive zone a lot,” Berube said in January, not long before St. Louis fired off an 11-game win streak. “We shoot the puck and get to the net. That’s our game.”

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

The Blues are now shooting the puck more (32.2 shots/game), allowing fewer on net (27.78 shots allowed/game), and driving possession in a much more impactful way (52.49 percent Corsi). They’re are also getting to the net much more successfully than earlier in the season. Since Berube took over, they’re first in the league in high-danger scoring chances (58.53 percent), as Micah Blake McCurdy showed in a great animated graphic.

The changes came slowly, but soon began to work effectively. Coupled with Jordan Binnington’s rise, the Blues are a different team under the interim head coach. It was only a few months ago that names like Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko were in the trade rumor mill. Now they’re vital pieces as the franchise eyes making noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs next month.

“He definitely changed the attitude in this dressing room — it was pretty bad and pretty negative,” said defenseman Vince Dunn via the Post-Dispatch. “And he just really wanted us to believe in each other. And to just have a lot of self-accountability, whether it was with confidence or with good and bad things on the ice. He wanted us to realize that we were a good team, but he also wanted us to realize where we were going wrong.”

(Numbers via Natural Stat Trick)

Chris Cuthbert (play-by-play) and Brian Hayward (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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