ST. LOUIS - The Blues will make their second preseason appearance at Sprint Center in Kansas City tonight, where they'll host the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m.
It’s the fourth time since 2003 that the Blues have played an exhibition game in Kansas City (the previous two were played at Kemper Arena).
The last time at Sprint Center, the Blues fell 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings in a preseason game on Sept. 22, 2008. T.J. Oshie made his first appearance as a Blue, as did goalie Chris Mason, and newly-signed free agent Paul Kariya scored his first goal in a Blues uniform.
Tonight’s roster, which includes Oshie, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund, Steve Ott, Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk, is excited to play in what’s expected to be a big crowd in Kansas City. Sprint Center seats over 17,000 for hockey.
ST. LOUIS - If Ivan Barbashev looked a little tentative at the start of his first NHL training camp last week, he sure doesn’t now.
“We had a talk with him,” captain David Backes said. “(We said) listen, you’re an NHL draft pick for a reason, you’re at an NHL camp for a reason - because you’re a good player. Start playing and stop thinking out there.
“That sank in for that scrimmage yesterday and he did a fine job.”
Barbashev will make his NHL preseason debut tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. at Scottrade Center, KMOX 1120 AM). The 6-foot, 180-pound center was selected in the second round (33rd overall) at the 2014 NHL Draft.
He’s expected to start the game on a line with Backes and T.J. Oshie.
COLUMBUS - Brendan Woods isn’t likely to forget the first Blues preseason game of 2014.
He’ll remember meeting David Backes and T.J. Oshie. He’ll remember getting his hockey stick signed by Barret Jackman. He’ll remember flying on the team’s charter and giving a pregame speech to the team in the locker room before the players took the ice.
And that once-in-a-lifetime experience, let me tell you, couldn't have happened to a better kid.
In fact, they’ll be wearing them beginning Friday when the team skates in the first on-ice practices at training camp.
The masks were designed by Marcus Power and painted by Jason Livery of Head Strong Grafx, which has worked with both goaltenders before.
Click the "FULL STORY" button to see photos and learn more about the designs.
ST. LOUIS - It's September, which means EA Sports has released their latest entry in the NHL video game series. NHL 15 hit stores last week and is making it's first appearance on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
While I'm disappointed that T.J. Oshie didn't win the cover vote this summer, I will admit I'm a big fan of the game. Speaking from my own experience, the gameplay and presentation this year is top notch (I mean, simply having Doc Emerick do the play-by-play takes the game to an entirely new level).
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take a few screenshots and ask our players to briefly critique the digital versions of themselves.
Click the "FULL STORY" button below to see their comments.
Today is that day.
Schmuke is part of an eight-man crew installing the ice at Scottrade Center in preparation for the upcoming season, which officially begins Friday when the Blues take the ice for the first day of training camp.
“This is my favorite time of the year, especially knowing we have a good team,” said Schmuke. “This is perfect timing. The weather has gotten cooler, fall is near and so is Opening Night.”
The first preseason game at Scottrade Center is set for Sept. 25 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Opening Night is Oct. 9 vs. the New York Rangers.
ST. LOUIS - What a close series we have between the Blues and Blackhawks through four games.
The series is tied 2-2. The Blues have scored 11 goals, the Blackhawks 12. Both teams have two power-play goals in the series. Did we expect anything else from these Western Conference powerhouses?
“This series is probably right where it belongs,” Ken Hitchcock said following practice on Thursday. “Neither team is giving an inch. Both teams are, for me, fully-invested in trying to win this series. Nobody is going away. They’re not going away, we’re not going away.”
That should make for an exciting Game 5, which begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, Y98 FM).
The Blues won the first two games of the series and the Blackhawks have taken the momentum with wins in Games 3 and 4. But after four games, it comes down to a best-of-3 and a big opportunity for St. Louis.
“It’s about us getting to our game, them getting to their game, and whoever does it more is going to win the hockey game,” Hitchcock said. “It’s a big time for us. We’re trying to slay the dragon I guess you could say. We’re trying to prove that we belong in the top echelon…it’s a shame someone’s got to lose this series because of what both organizations are putting into this thing right now, but somebody’s got to go down, so I’d rather it be them than us.”
Added defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, “We’re not in a bad spot. It’s tied and we still have home-ice (advantage). We have a good opportunity here.”
CHICAGO - If the Blues could bottle what they did in Game 3 and apply it to tonight’s Game 4 (8:30 p.m., FSMW, Y98), they are optimistic about taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series back to St. Louis.
Despite a 2-0 loss Monday, the players and Ken Hitchcock said they were very happy with their effort.
“Best game by far. We played a great game,” Hitchcock said. “We did a lot of things that you want to, it was one of the best road games I’ve ever seen us play. They’re a good team, we knew this was going to be a long series. But we played hard and we played well. We did a lot of things we needed to do to win the hockey game, but you’ve got to give their goalie credit. He was good, especially late.”
In Game 3, the Blues outshot the Blackhawks 35-25 and didn’t give up many great scoring chances, except for a few while shorthanded late in the second period. Ryan Miller came up big on the penalty kill to keep the Blues in the game, but it was Corey Crawford who preserved the one-goal lead for the Blackhawks.
“We’re not disappointed in our play. We’ve been playing a good team game, working hard and really creating a lot,” Jaden Schwartz said Monday. “We didn’t get the right bounce. We’ll make a few adjustments but I think we’re happy with our effort.”
Added Hitchcock, “We’re really starting to gain our confidence back again, and we’re going to need every piece of it to beat this team.”
NO UPDATE ON BACKES
David Backes didn't skate with the team at United Center, and Hitchcock wouldn't comment on his availability for tonight.
But Hitchcock did offer this: "He's not going to play unless he's healthy. You never know. He could be skating at another rink, he could be doing something else, you don't know. There's a lot of rinks here in Chicago... The way he plays is going to have a huge impact on this series, so if he skated somewhere else and is in fine-tuned condition, you'll see him tonight."
So basically, we'll have to wait and see.
Hitchcock did say that Brenden Morrow (lower-body) will be out for the rest of the series.
CHICAGO - Patrik Berglund will return to the lineup for Game 3 tonight in Chicago (7:30 p.m CT, FSMW, Y98 FM).
Berglund has been out of the lineup since suffering an upper-body injury on April 11 in Dallas.
“He’s playing. He feels good and ready to go. He's been declared fit to play,” Ken Hitchcock said in his morning press conference. “You’re walking into a hornet’s nest (in this series), so that’s why we’re starting him on the lower side of the roster to see where he’s at from being mentally able to keep up.”
David Backes, who was hit by Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook with 15:09 left in the third period in Game 2, won’t play tonight. Seabrook was suspended three games for the hit by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
“He’s our No. 1 center. He plays the most minutes on the hockey club, he plays in every situation,” Hitchcock said of Backes. “It has to be shared. Not one person is going to be able to take this slot, we don’t have that. It’s a big hole, but we’re more equipped to handle this than we would have been without Bergy.”
The Blues, who lead the best-of-7 series 2-0, expect a tough test tonight at United Center.
Said Hitchcock: “We’ve got to play our best game today. We’ve got to play a lot better than we did in the first two games if we expect to win. We can play better, I think our players will, but we’re going to need to. We’ve got to really amp up our game if we expect to win in this building.”
That’s the list of players who were unable to play in the regular season finale on Sunday against Detroit.
Now, here's the good news. Of that injured list, only Oshie and Berglund won’t be ready for Game 1 tonight.
And here's the better news: Hitchcock reiterated at practice yesterday that everybody would be back at some point in the series.
“We’ve got guys in various stages, guys getting various treatments to get ready to play,” Hitchcock said. “As I said before, at some time during the series, everybody is going to be in. But I can’t tell you if it’s Game 1, Game 5 or 6 or 7 or whatever.”
Perhaps the most surprising player to return tonight is Tarasenko, who had surgery on his right hand on March 19 and wasn’t expected to be evaluated until after the end of the first round.
“He deserves an awful lot of credit. He’s worked extra hard to be in the best shape of his life right now, which is going to allow him to be able to keep up at this time of the year,” Hitchcock said. “I think if he doesn’t put all the extra work in that he’s done on ice, off the ice, everywhere, I don’t think we would have been able to play him.”
Tonight, the Blues begin their first-round playoff series against the Blackhawks, a team they haven’t faced in the postseason since 2002. The Blues won the regular season series 3-2.
The Blackhawks are reportedly getting injured forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane back tonight. Toews sat out the final six games of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Kane missed the final 12 games with a lower-body injury.