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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 3:22 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

SAN JOSE - David Backes will lace up the skates for his 600th career game tonight when the Blues meet the San Jose Sharks at 9:30 p.m. (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).

It seems like just yesterday Backes made his Blues debut in Pittsburgh.

On Dec. 19, 2006, shortly after stepping onto the ice for the first time, Backes was rocked by a big hit from Penguins defenseman Alain Nasreddine. In typical Backes fashion though, the 22-year-old forward got up, blocked a Penguins clearing attempt and got the puck to Doug Weight, who scored and gave the Blues a 1-0 lead.

“It’s not the way you draw it up, but it was a successful first shift,” Backes said. “The more proud part is we won the game. The team hadn’t a ton of success before that.”

Fast forward to today, 599 games later, and Backes is not only one of the team’s top forwards, but he’s also their captain and leader.

“I think the thing that has evolved is he was an emotional train when he came into the League,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He was a guy that once he was on the tracks, he didn’t get off the tracks. He was very physical, very emotional. I think he’s really become a strong positional player right now. His game has matured.

“The part I like about him the best he carries a real team heart,” Hitchcock added. “He carries himself in the way you’d really like a captain to carry himself. He thinks of others ahead of himself, both on and off the ice, and I think that’s what you like a captain.”

Backes will become the 10th player to play 600 games in the Blues uniform. He passes Chris Pronger (598) and in the next 15 games, will pass names such as Larry Patey (603), Al MacInnis (613), Barclay Plager (614) and Bob Plager (615).

“It’s something that’s very humbling,” Backes said. “I’m proud to be at 600 games and I think doing it all with one organization is something extra special as well. It’s exciting, but once the puck drops, we’re looking for two points and we’ll forget about the number of games I’ve played.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:54 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

LOS ANGELES - So we meet again.

The Blues against the Kings.

Martin Brodeur against Jonathan Quick, who is expected to start for the Kings.

“I was looking forward to the next start with a lot of quality practice time and everything,” Brodeur said. “The team did really well in the last three games and (I) just try to keep everything going there. It’s a lot more fun when we get efforts like that every night. Just try to continue that.”

And he’s right. Tuesday was a lot of fun.

After trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Blues scored four goals in the third to beat the Kings 5-2 at Scottrade Center in the first game of the home-and-home series. Three of the Blues’ goals were scored in a span of 2:30 and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his second hat trick of the season in the win.

“We won the game, but they were better than we were for half the game and we were better than they were for half the game,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The score was positive on our side, but I think we know we’ve got play better and we know we’ve got to make adjustments. I’m sure they feel the same way.

“I think everybody in our locker room knows if we expect to win here tonight, we’re going to have to play a lot better than we did in St. Louis.”

Blues captain David Backes agreed.

“We’re in their building now in some hostile territory. Whoever gets to their game first and sustains it will have success,” Backes said. “(They have) two Cups in the last three years, and not because they sit back and see what happens. They’re a great team and we need to match that and give our best effort.”

Tuesday’s win was the Blues’ fifth consecutive victory. The Kings, meanwhile, have just one win in their last five (1-3-1).

As mentioned, Brodeur is anxious to get between the pipes. He’s very familiar with the Kings, who he met in the Stanley Cup Final back in 2012. Los Angeles jumped out to a 3-0 series lead but the Devils battled back, eventually falling in six games.

“It was unexpected in New Jersey that we were going to go that far and we faced a really good team in LA,” Brodeur said. “It was a good experience. For me, it was a lot of fun going back to the Stanley Cup Final and competing for it. Coming back here brings back a couple memories of it.”

Brodeur is 8-6-1 in the regular season against the Kings. In his regular season career at Staples Center, he is 4-3-1 with a 1.84 goals-against average, a .931 save-percentage and one shutout.

The puck drops tonight at 9:30 p.m. CT on FSMW and KMOX 1120 AM.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.16.2014 / 1:16 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - Typically, the Blues would look at a game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions as a measuring stick…a way to see how they stack up against the best of the best.

But tonight, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock is looking at it a different way.

“It’s all about points,” he said. “They need the points, we need the points. We need to play our best game, because we’ve got a difficult opponent and we have to find a way to keep getting points.”

As always, the Blues expect a tough battle. In the last meeting between the teams, the Kings took a 1-0 victory in a shootout, with Jeff Carter scoring the only goal in the game. The Blues fired 43 shots on net.

Tonight’s contest (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX) is the first game of a home-and-home series with the Kings, which wraps up Thursday night at Staples Center in LA.

“This is always a playoff game in the middle of the regular season. The fact that we’re playing back to back against them makes it feel that way,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “The first game we had against them this year was a phenomenal game. When you look at it, we lose in a shootout, but it was a back-and-forth game, 0-0, the way we always play each other.

“Hopefully we come out with the right attitude and the right effort to get a win.”

Jake Allen will make his third consecutive start tonight. He’s won two straight, the latest a 23-save performance on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.

“The second half of the game in Colorado, we saw Jake come back into form,” Hitchcock said. “We want to continue to build on that. That’s the goalie we anticipated. He had a little bit of a rough stretch, which is what happens with younger guys. He jumped back to form in the second half of the game and the third period, so we want to build on that.”

Allen leads all rookie goaltenders with 10 wins. In 15 games this season, he’s 10-3-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .907 save-percentage.

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.15.2014 / 12:11 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / DraftKings Fantasy Report

If you need a player on your fantasy hockey team that comes through in the clutch, you might want to consider adding T.J. Oshie.

Oshie has game-winning goals in back-to-back games, becoming just the 16th player in the NHL this season to accomplish that feat. Oshie’s third-period tally Thursday against the Islanders lifted the Blues to a 6-3 win, while his overtime goal Saturday in Colorado gave the Blues a four-game winning streak.

Oshie started the season slow, registering just six points in his first 19 games. But now, he’s got six points (three goals, three assists) in his last four.

“Probably the last week, the last four games or so, I’ve felt like it’s been the best hockey of the season for me,” Oshie said. “I feel like I’m getting back to that good hockey I was playing last year…Linemates are going good, it seems like everyone is going now.”

HONORABLE MENTION

Kevin Shattenkirk scored his third power-play goal of the season Saturday against the Avalanche, giving him 16 power-play points on the season. Shattenkirk has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his last five games overall. He ranks second among all defenseman with 25 points this season.

SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Dec. 16 vs. Los Angeles Kings
Dec. 18 at Los Angeles Kings
Dec. 20 at San Jose Sharks

DraftKings offers free or paid fantasy hockey options and gives players the opportunity to win real money! Participate in daily hockey leagues with no season-long commitment! To date, over $20 million has been paid out to thousands of fantasy sports winners! Go to draftkings.com to sign up today!

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 3:18 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

DENVER - After playing eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Blues forward Paul Stastny admitted there could be some nerves and emotions before tonight’s game at Pepsi Center.

“I want to get that first game out of the way. After that, it’s just another game,” Stastny said. “I know a lot of those guys on (Colorado's) team and this is the organization that gave me a chance to blossom into the player I’ve become. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for everything they did for me.

“I’m just excited to be back here with a Blues jersey to play another NHL game.”

Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t downplay how emotional a return like this can be for a player.

“I think it’s really uncomfortable for the players,” Hitchcock said. “He’s just going to have to go through it. Finish the game, get back on the bus and get back to St. Louis. I think it’s a very difficult challenge, especially for an impact player on a good hockey club. I think it’s going to be really difficult for him.”

Stastny missed the previous meeting between the teams with a shoulder injury. He seems to be finding a rhythm now, scoring four goals and an assist in his last five games. He leads the team in goals for December.

“It’s been an up and down season. Sometimes bounces go your way, sometimes not,” Stastny said. “Things are going in, but at the same time, I’m starting to feel healthy again. I just have to keep playing, try to get more ice time and keep building the confidence.”

As a rookie in 2006-07, Stastny posted 78 points with the Avalanche and finished second in Calder Trophy voting. With 538 games in a Colorado jersey, Stastny is eighth all-time in franchise history in points with 458 (160 goals and 298 assists).

But the Denver roots don’t stop there. Stastny played for Denver University from 2004-06 and earned a national championship in 2005. He lists Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Matt Duchene among his closest friends.

“Whether I’m on a different team or not, they’re always going to be good friends of mine,” Stastny said. “We talk about more non-hockey stuff than hockey stuff. That’s how you know who your friends are.

“You play against other guys when it’s international or exhibition or college. I think at the end of the day, you’ve got to lace them up (and) when the game starts, you’re playing for the Blues on your chest. After the game, you’re friends again.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.11.2014 / 12:42 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - The Blues will have David Backes, Alexander Steen and Jay Bouwmeester in the lineup tonight when they host the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).

Backes joined the team for the morning skate today wearing a shield to protect his jaw. On Monday, a shot from T.J. Oshie was deflected and hit Backes near the mouth. The captain, who Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said had “enough dental work” for one night, won’t miss a game.

“It definitely got deflected but it still came off my stick first. You feel terrible,” Oshie said. “I was probably whitish-green in here after that period. I feel terrible about it but Backs went out there in front of the net (today) and told me to start shooting pucks on him.

“He’s a tough guy and he’s ready to go.”

Steen, who took warm-ups last Saturday in Long Island but what was held out the lineup with a lower-body injury, will return tonight after missing two games. Steen skated with the team yesterday and said it felt good to get back out there.

Bouwmeester will return after missing eight games with a groin injury. The defenseman was injured on Nov. 22 in Ottawa and had his “Iron Man” streak end at 737 games. He was a regular in practice Wednesday and was back on the ice today.

“Obviously everybody wants to play. It’s not a lot of fun sitting out, but it is what it is,” Bouwmeester said after practice. “It’s a funny thing. Sometimes (you heal) quick, sometimes it takes more time.”

Hitchcock said the Blues will be without defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who is “no better” after being hit near the boards by Islanders forward Anders Lee last Saturday. Lee wasn’t suspended but was fined by the NHL Department of Player Safety.

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.08.2014 / 4:43 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / DraftKings Fantasy Report

Much of the focus of these DraftKings Fantasy blogs has been the forwards - Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera, Jaden Schwartz, etc.

But let’s switch gears for a second and take a look at one Blues defenseman who is on top of his game offensively: Kevin Shattenkirk.

The New Rochelle, NY native is second among all defenseman with 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) this season, trailing only Calgary’s Mark Giordano, who has 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists).

Shattenkirk is also proving his fantasy value with 14 points on the power-play, which is best among all NHL blue liners. He’s also the only player in the League that has at least 10 power-play points and a plus-9 rating.

Want to dominate your DraftKings Fantasy Hockey League? Consider Shattenkirk.

HONORABLE MENTION

Vladimir Tarasenko is second overall in the League with 17 goals, just four shy of Stars forward Tyler Seguin, who owns the NHL’s lead. Tarasenko has scored in four of his last five games and is on pace to become the Blues’ first 50-goal scorer since Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan in 1993-94.

BLUES SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Dec. 8 vs. Florida Panthers
Dec. 11 vs. New York Islanders
Dec. 13 at Colorado Avalanche

DraftKings offers free or paid fantasy hockey options and gives players the opportunity to win real money! Participate in daily hockey leagues with no season-long commitment! To date, over $20 million has been paid out to thousands of fantasy sports winners! Go to draftkings.com to sign up today!

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.08.2014 / 12:52 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - Martin Brodeur will make his first home start as a Blue tonight when the team hosts the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).

Brodeur is coming off his first win as a Blue on Saturday. He made 14 saves in relief in a 6-4 win against the New York Islanders.

“It was good to get the first one out of the way, get the guys back on the winning track, too,” Brodeur said Monday after the morning skate. “We played a solid game from the second period on.”

Brodeur enters tonight’s game with a 40-16-9 career record against the Panthers. He boasts a 2.06 goals-against average and a .914 save-percentage against Florida.

Tonight marks the first time Brodeur will play in front of a new home crowd. The only home he’s known in his career is in New Jersey.

“I think it’s always an advantage to play in your own building,” he said. “Fans are always a big component and the reason why a team has success in their own building. I know playing against these guys throughout the years in this building, it’s always a fun place to play.”

Despite playing in 1,261 career games, he might even have a few butterflies.

“I get nervous before we put the skates on,” Brodeur said. “When I get on the ice, the only thing I worry about is stopping the puck. When you’re preparing yourself, your nervousness comes from what-ifs. When you get into the game, it’s a game. What players saw in me in New Jersey through the years is how composed I am when I play the game. It doesn’t mean I’m not excited or nervous in between periods or before games.”

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 9:44 AM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

UNIONDALE, NY - When the Blues wrap up a four-game road swing Saturday against the New York Islanders, it’ll be a day of firsts and lasts.

FIRST: The Blues will get a look at Jaroslav Halak for the first time since trading him to the Buffalo Sabres in February in a deal that brought Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis. Since then, Halak was again traded to the Washington Capitals, where he finished last season before eventually signing as a free agent with the Islanders.

On Thursday, Halak set an Islanders franchise record with his 11th consecutive win, breaking a record set by Hall of Fame goaltender Billy Smith that had stood since 1982. In those 11 games, Halak has given up just 14 goals.

“It’s always nice, but I would say I’m not here to chase any records or anything,” Halak told reporters after the game Thursday. “I’m here to have fun, play hockey and try to help the guys win the game.”

The Islanders are winners of three straight games and have won eight of their last nine contests.

LAST: Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Final in June, the Blues will play their last game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum today.

With their lease set to expire at the end of the season, the Islanders will leave the 42-year-old venue for the 15,795-seat Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Blues have won five of their last seven games at Nassau. All-time though, the Blues are 16-27-11.

“It’s a new era for the Islanders next year, so I know they’re playing as an inspired team right now,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “They’re playing probably their best hockey in years and they’ve put together a good solid group of young guys and young leaders on this team who had their taste in the playoffs and they want to get back there.

“Hopefully we can grab another win in this building before they move on and we have to play them in Brooklyn.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.04.2014 / 1:32 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

NASHVILLE - In a career spanning 1,464 NHL games (including the playoffs), goalie Martin Brodeur has just about done it all.

Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie? Yep.

Stanley Cup champion? Three times.

NHL All-Star Game? 10 of ‘em.

The only thing he hasn’t done is played for a team other than the New Jersey Devils. But he can cross that one off the list tonight, too.

Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time leader in games played, wins (688) and shutouts (124) will start for the Blues tonight after spending his entire 21-year career with the New Jersey Devils. Brodeur joined the Blues for practice last week after Brian Elliott sustained a lower-body injury. On Tuesday, the Blues signed the free agent to a one-year contract.

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a little while and it’s finally coming in,” Brodeur said after the morning skate. “We’ll have fun with it.”

Brodeur boasts a 2.24 goals-against average and a .912 save-percentage in his outstanding career, which began shortly after he was drafted by the Devils in the first round (20th overall) in 1990.

But despite all the accomplishments and being 42-years-old, Brodeur isn’t ready to call it quits just yet.

“I’m living this dream and when you are living a dream and you really enjoy what you do, it’s hard to let go sometimes,” Brodeur said.

With a big division opponent and first place in the division on the line at this point in the season, Hitchcock said it’s the perfect time for Brodeur to start.

“He’s here to see if he wants to keep playing hockey and he wants to finish it on his terms, on his note,” Hitchcock said. “His legacy (with New Jersey) is not going to be affected by this. He’s going to finish it on his terms hopefully and whatever is written, it’s going to be written about how many Cups, how many wins, how many shutouts (he has)…he’s got numbers nobody is going to touch, and good on him, because he’s earned and deserved every bit of it.”

Brodeur will be making his first start since April 13. He has earned points in four of his last five starts against the Predators (3-1-1), and his last start against Nashville was a 15-save shutout on Nov. 10, 2013.

“I never really put a thought into when it was going to be done or how I’m going to feel. I just went year by year, especially at the end,” Brodeur said. “Two years ago, before we went on the Cup run in New Jersey, I thought ‘yeah, that’s enough.’ But I think I have a little more life into me because of the run and how fun it was and everything. That made me want to continue more.

“Now here I am.”

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 35 22 8 5 101 96 49
2 CHI 33 22 9 2 102 67 46
3 STL 33 21 9 3 100 81 45
4 NSH 31 21 8 2 87 64 44
5 SJS 34 19 11 4 97 87 42
6 VAN 32 19 11 2 92 90 40
7 WPG 33 17 10 6 80 76 40
8 LAK 34 17 11 6 94 84 40
9 CGY 35 17 15 3 100 95 37
10 MIN 31 16 12 3 91 84 35
11 DAL 31 13 13 5 89 104 31
12 COL 32 11 13 8 83 100 30
13 ARI 32 11 17 4 74 104 26
14 EDM 33 7 20 6 69 110 20

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 33 20 17 18 37
K. Shattenkirk 33 5 23 14 28
J. Schwartz 31 11 16 10 27
J. Lehtera 32 8 17 13 25
A. Steen 31 8 13 -1 21
A. Pietrangelo 33 3 17 -10 20
D. Backes 32 8 7 -4 15
P. Stastny 25 7 6 0 13
T. Oshie 25 5 7 2 12
P. Berglund 32 4 7 1 11
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 8 4 1 .931 1.82
J. Allen 11 3 2 .907 2.49

 
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