St. Louis Blues goalie Ty Conklin cools off after giving up his second goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010, in St. Louis. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jeff Roberson)
ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Blues have the worst home record in the NHL at 9-15-5. At least they win some of the time.
Not their backup goalie. Nearly two-thirds of the way through the season, Ty Conklin is still waiting for that first congratulatory scrum around the net while being serenaded by cheering fans.
Conklin is actually 1-6 at home, but that includes a victory in the season-opening series against the Detroit Red Wings in Sweden.
At the Scottrade Center, he's 0-6 with a woeful 4.24 goals-against average after a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
On the road, the 33-year-old Conklin is 7-2-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average and three shutouts.
Conklin had four shutouts at home last season with Detroit before signing a free agent deal with St. Louis. This season his workload has been lighter with 17 starts behind Chris Mason, going 8-8-1 with three shutouts and a 2.69 goals-against average, after playing in 40 games last season with a career best 25 victories.
"What do you make of it? It speaks for itself," he said. "I think it just comes down to making the extra save. I've made an extra save on the road, I haven't at home."
Coach Davis Payne doesn't plan on cutting back Conklin's home games, suggesting the sorry showing at the Scottrade Center could simply mean that he's "due."
"Any way you look at it, the numbers are going to work for you or they're going to work against you," Payne said. "Ty's a good goaltender, we know that. And he's capable of putting a performance up there that counts, home or road."
In December, Conklin made 42 saves in Detroit to beat the Red Wings 1-0. He also has shutouts at Anaheim and Calgary.
At home, he has allowed six goals to the Blackhawks and five each to the Sabres and lowly Oilers. He got the start Thursday against the Western Conference-leading Sharks because Mason was in goal the previous night in a 3-2 victory at Chicago, and because he had been 4-2 for his career against San Jose with a victory earlier in the season.
Payne wasn't blaming Conklin for the loss to the Sharks, though he suggested there were a few soft goals: "He'd probably take a look at it and say he could have made a closer game of it."
Conklin wasn't arguing that point after his latest home struggles. Two of the goals came on big rebounds.
"From my perspective," he said, "somewhere you've got to find an extra save."
Mason will likely be back in net on Saturday night in a quick rematch against the Blackhawks, who are second overall in the Western Conference with 79 points. The Blues' home record is a key reason why the team is in 13th place in the West with 59 points and seven points out of the final playoff spot.
St. Louis quickly fell behind Thursday when Patrick Marleau scored his 38th goal just 21 seconds into the game.
"We need to continue to establish the way we're going to play at home and outwork teams," forward David Backes said. "We need to get the job done."