ST. LOUIS – A former Stanley Cup foe is now a St. Louis Blues clubhouse favorite.
Noel Acciari has prided himself on heavy hits and gritty goals for much of his career. It’s been a formula for success for the Blues, who are one victory away from matching an early, eight-game losing skid in the form of a winning streak.
“It’s not easy to do both things, but we’re going to keep this thing going,” said Acciari on St. Louis’ surge.
In those seven consecutive victories, Acciari has collected four goals, two assists, 16 hits, six blocked shots and a 56.5% faceoff win percentage. His contributions have been plentiful on both ends of the ice, even with different linemates most games. Teammates and coaches say he’s fitting in quite naturally.
“He comes in with the right attitude each night, competing and giving his best effort,” said Brayden Schenn ahead of Monday’s game. “He’s a team guy, he’s always doing things on the ice for teammates on the ice to make them better.”
“He’s exactly what you want out of a teammate,” said Justin Faulk via Bally Sports Midwest. “A guy that goes out there every night, works hard, He’s physical, he takes care of the puck. He’s so committed to being a team player, and it’s great to see him get rewarded.”
“He gets good looks almost every game because of hard work and being around the net,” said head coach Craig Berube after Monday’s win. “He brings everybody into the fight. Whatever line he goes on, he helps them.”
Acciari scored the opening goal in the Blues’ most recent two wins, Saturday and Monday, against the Anaheim Ducks. In the second game, he lit the lamp just 11 seconds into the game, the sixth-fastest goal to start a contest in Blues history.
“Not since I could remember,” Acciari said smilingly when asked if he ever scored faster into a game.
Acciari also delivered a trio of hits both games, adding to 61 hits that are currently 15th best in the league this year.
All of this comes nearly three and a half years after Acciari was part of rather unfortunate history against his current team. In Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Acciari tripped over Tyler Bozak’s stick, argued by many as a botched call, and the Blues ended up scoring the game-winning goal seconds after that play.
Acciari showed glimpses of strong two-way play in that playoff series, collecting three points and 33 hits over seven games. Now teamed with eight opponents from that series, and then-teammate Torey Krug, the 30-year-old forward continues to build on his repertoire of experience, versatility and charm.
“He’s a pretty likable player, most coaches would like him,” said Berube. “He’s played well from the get-go for me. The effort he gives every night and the details in his game are excellent.”
Acciari and the Blues kick off a three-game, East Coast roadtrip Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres that stretches into Thanksgiving. St. Louis’ 20 points (behind a 10-8-0 record) are fourth-best in the Central division and only five behind the division-leading Dallas Stars.