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POSTED ON Monday, 01.19.2015 / 12:42 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - It’s the last game before the NHL All-Star break, but don’t tell the St. Louis Blues.

“We’ve got one task to finish before we get there, and that’s get two points tonight against Colorado,” Blues captain David Backes said. “We’ve seen they can lay it on us if we don’t bring our A-game. Before the last break we had for Christmas, we played them and it wasn’t very pretty. So maybe you (media) guys can stop talking about a break and start talking about the game tonight and we’ll stay focused on it and get two points.

“You can call me (tomorrow) and we’ll talk about the break all you want.”

The game before Christmas that Backes is referencing is a 5-0 loss to the Avalanche on Dec. 23. The Blues bounced back with a 3-0 win on Dec. 29 against Colorado, but they certainly don’t want to repeat the mistake of looking ahead to the break.

“I think we need a great game tonight against a team that’s playing very well, a team in our division that we’d like to keep down there below us if we can,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “(The break) gives us a chance to recharge and get ready for what looks like a tough February and March.

“These are two points we don’t want to let get away from us,” Shattenkirk added. “We remember what they did to us right before Christmas in their barn… We won’t be falling into that trap again. Tonight, we’ll be ready to play.”

The Blues host an Avalanche team that has points in five of their last six games. Colorado is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss on Saturday in Tampa Bay. Nathan MacKinnon scored with seven seconds left in regulation to earn a point for Colorado, who is 19-17-10 and currently seventh in the Central Division.

Alex Tanguay leads Colorado with 31 points in 44 games, while Jarome Iginla is a close second with 30 points.

“They’re a good team, they’ve got a great spirit. They play hard…they make you earn it,” said Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. “It seems one team gets the other team on their heels and it can’t get back up off the mat. They’re playing really well right now, this is the best I’ve seen them play.

“We’re going to get their A-game and hopefully we give them ours.”

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.17.2015 / 12:01 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - Carl Gunnarsson meets his former team for the first time since being traded to the Blues when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to Scottrade Center for a 6 p.m. face off tonight (FSMW, KMOX).

Gunnarsson, who spent five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is looking forward to tonight’s game but insists it won’t be too big of a deal.

“It’s going to be a little bit different I guess, but I try to see it as any other game,” Gunnarsson said after the morning skate. “It’s going to be a little bit weird being on the other side of former teammates. You just try to forget about that and play your game.”

Gunnarsson was acquired by the Blues at the 2014 NHL Draft in exchange for defenseman Roman Polak. Both players have missed time with injuries this season. Gunnarsson started the season late after offseason hip surgery, then sustained a concussion in December. Polak missed a handful of games with a lower-body injury he sustained in November.

“It’s a good trade, but I don’t think both teams will see the full value until both players are healthy,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Polak has a certain element that unnerves the opposition, and Gunnarsson has an element that really makes him a good partner for (Kevin) Shattenkirk, and we needed that type of partner for Shatty.

“We loved (Roman) here, and we loved the element (he brought). But it’s what you’ve got to give to get the element that we were missing on our team.”

Added Shattenkirk, “(Gunnarsson) brings a lot. He makes it easy for a guy like me to feel comfortable jumping in the rush. We found a little chemistry together when moving the puck. I think in our defensive zone, he’s a calming presence. He’s someone who is poised when he gets the puck and when he doesn’t have it, he’s always in good position and ends plays quickly. For someone like me, that allows me to jump up on the rush sooner and have the energy to do it.”

Gunnarsson has played in 27 games for the Blues this season, scoring one goal and six assists. He also has a +9 rating.

Polak spent his first eight seasons with the Blues and ranks ninth in club history among games played by a defenseman (424).

Despite playing in 304 games for the Maple Leafs, Gunnarsson said he won’t be too emotional about tonight’s game.

“Just play your game, go out there and after 60 minutes, hopefully you have those two points,” he said. “It’s going to be special, but you’ve got to get that out of your head a little bit.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 12:29 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - It’s been awhile, but the Blues and Detroit Red Wings will renew an old rivalry tonight at Scottrade Center (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).

The teams have met 275 times in the regular season, which is second only to the Blues and Blackhawks, which have met 293 times.

Since the Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference, the teams now meet just twice a season.

“It’s a little bit different, but there’s still that rivalry,” said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. “We still know what kind of team they are. Some things don’t change, and there’s certainly some fun memories of playing against these guys over the years.”

While it’s impossible to compile all of the great Blues / Red Wings moments in one blog, here are a few that stand out over the years.

Jan. 23, 1993
The Blues beat the Red Wings 4-3, but the goals and the score aren’t the most memorable part. That belongs to the brawl that started with Kelly Chase and Jim Cummins and ended with goalies Curtis Joseph and Tim Cheveldae throwing punches at center ice. The moment featured Ken Wilson’s now iconic “Here Comes Chevaldae” call. You can see it again on YouTube by clicking here.

April 16, 1995
The Blues gave away hats to all fans who attended the game at Kiel Center. Brett Hull delivered a natural hat trick against Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon, and then added another goal for good measure, in a four-goal performance. More than 5,000 hats came flying to the ice after Hull’s third goal, and the Blues would eventually win 6-5 thanks to fan-favorite Rick Zombo, who scored the game-winner.

May 16, 1996
The Blues and Red Wings needed Game 7 to decide the Western Conference Semifinals. With goaltender Grant Fuhr injured in the first round, Jon Casey filled in admirably for the Blues, who were looking for their first trip to the Western Conference Final in 10 years. The game wouldn’t be decided until double overtime, when Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman scored a heartbreaking goal from the blue line to end the series. “I hated Detroit growing up,” said St. Louis native and Blues defenseman Chris Butler. “That Steve Yzerman shot is forever in-grained in my memory. That picture from behind the goal, the slap shot, it ruined every good feeling I ever had towards the Detroit Red Wings.”

April 2, 2009
David Backes
scored a career-high four goals, including the go-ahead goal with 4:07 left in the game, to help the Blues to a 5-4 victory over the Red Wings to catapult the team into the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Thanks in large part to this victory, the Blues surged into the postseason for the first time in five years.

March 30, 2011
The Blues pile 10 goals on the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena en route to a 10-3 win. It was the first time the Red Wings gave up 10 goals in a game since 1993. Chris Stewart, Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Porter each had three points. “Ten goals in Joe Louis Arena…to score five goals it’s a hope and a prayer,” Backes said. “We had a few things clicking that night.”

Jan. 19, 2013
After an NHL lockout postponed the start of the Blues season until January, Vladimir Tarasenko made his NHL debut and scored on his first two shots. The Blues would eventually win the game 6-0 in front of a packed house at Scottrade Center. WATCH

Back to tonight, Detroit is wrapping up a six-game road trip. The Red Wings are 23-11-9 (55 points) and rank third in the Atlantic Division.

“It’s a lot of the same stuff. They’re solid in their checking, they’re solid in the team game,” said Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. “The score may be close, but the game’s not close when we watch them play. They control the game and it’s been the same for years. They play a certain way, which is very effective.”

“I think it will still be cranked up, but the prominence of how many times we play them maybe lessens that a little bit,” said Backes. “My first six years in the league, we played them five or six times a year and we really built that animosity towards each other…It should be a heck of a game tonight.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.13.2015 / 12:16 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - Jake Allen will make his first start since Dec. 27 (a 4-3 loss to Dallas) tonight when the Blues host the Edmonton Oilers at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX).

Allen relieved Brian Elliott on Saturday after the Blues found themselves trailing the Hurricanes 3-1 in the first period. Allen stopped 19 of 20 shots in relief, including all three of Carolina’s shootout attempts to help the Blues come back and earn a 5-4 win.

The victory was the Blues’ fourth in a row.

“(I just) got some extra work in practice and get back to the basics and my good habits again. It really paid off,” Allen said after the morning skate today at Scottrade Center. “I felt good in there, comfortable, confident and I’m looking forward to getting another chance in there.”

Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said tonight was a scheduled start for Allen. Elliott will be back between the pipes Thursday vs. Detroit and Saturday vs. Toronto.

“Jake playing two periods the last game was not scheduled,” Hitchcock said. “Jake playing against Edmonton was scheduled. We’re not changing the schedule because we pulled Brian (on Saturday). We’re staying on the schedule where Brian obviously will play the bulk of the games here lately into the break, but unfortunately he only played one period in that last game. That probably didn’t sit well with Brian, but we’re not going to lose track of the the fact that (tonight’s) game was Jake’s game anyway. We want to stay on that task.”

Despite not appearing in six consecutive games, Allen leads all NHL rookies with 12 wins this season. The 24-year-old goaltender has a 2.69 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and two shutouts this season.

“I just want to be ready for my next opportunity, give the guys a chance when I get in there,” Allen said. “I felt I did that against Carolina.”

“It’s not easy for a backup goalie coming in like that, but he did a great job,” said Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson. “That’s the beauty of having three really good goalies on the team right now. It doesn’t matter who is in net, we have all the trust in the guy who’s behind us. It’s a great feeling.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.12.2015 / 6:04 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / DraftKings Fantasy Report

Any fantasy blog being written should probably be highlighting Blues captain David Backes right about now.

Backes has posted multiple points in three consecutive games for the second time in his career and the first time since March 6-10, 2009.

Last week, Backes scored a League-leading five goals and eight points, including his second career four-goal effort on Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes.

The increased production can probably be attributed to reuniting Backes with Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie. The combo has been on fire and there’s no sign of it stopping.

HONORABLE MENTION

Vladimir Tarasenko went five games without scoring a goal before beating Cam Ward with a real beauty in Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Tarasenko hasn’t gone six games without a goal this season, and when he scores one, he’s always hungry for more. The 23-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia native leads the Blues with 23 goals and 44 points and was named to the 2015 NHL All-Star team on Saturday.

SCHEDULE THIS WEEK


Jan. 13 vs. Edmonton Oilers
Jan. 15 vs. Detroit Red Wings
Jan. 17 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

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, 01.10.2015 / 12:36 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - It may sound clichè, but there’s really no other way say it: the Blues’ power play is firing on all cylinders.

The Blues have power-play goals in four consecutive games, converting on eight of their last 17 chances.

A big reason for that success is Assistant Coach Kirk Muller, who spent 19 seasons in the NHL as a player. Muller scored 357 goals and 602 assists (959 points) in 1,349 career games, and 310 of those points were scored on the power play.

“He’s a coach you can really relate to,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “Obviously with the amount of games and experience he has in the League, he’s extremely easy to talk to, whether it’s coming back from injury, the wear and tear of the season, travel, he’s been through it all.

“On the power play, he has good dialogue and good communication,” Steen added. “We talk and discuss everything from breakouts to end zone plays and what we want to do. The biggest thing is he stuck with the same guys, same units and we’ve been able to build a lot of chemistry…(We) read off each other and give a little nod and everybody knows what play we’re going to run. It’s been a big help.”

Muller served as the Head Coach of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-14 and will be behind the bench against them for the first time tonight (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).

“I approach tonight just like another game,” Muller said. “I look at (my time in Carolina) as a great opportunity for me to start my head coaching… Jim Rutherford gave me that opportunity and I learned a lot and it was a great experience. Now I’m here in St. Louis and learning from one of the best with Hitch.”

But back to that power play, which is the best in the League at 26.4 percent. Muller said the success is a collaborative effort.

“We really work it all together (as a coaching staff). It’s a group effort,” Muller said. “Secondly, it’s the players. You can have a group of talented guys, but if they just go out and think it’s going to happen, it doesn’t. They really have a lot of pride in it, they execute and get better at it and have fun with it.

“I approach it like a two-way street. Throw ideas at me, and I’ll throw ideas at you,” Muller said. “(The players) are the ones that are playing and they know what plays (they) like to make and what (they) feel comfortable with. We just have a good communication about it and walk through it, talk about it and go out and try to execute.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 12:48 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

ST. LOUIS - Home sweet home.

That’s where the Blues will be for the next 22 days as the team begins a season-long seven-game home stand.

And it’s most welcome, too. Of the last 23 games, 16 have been on the road.

“It’s great sleeping in your own bed and being in your own house, your own rink,” T.J. Oshie said. “It’s a different element. It’s really nice to be back.”

“It’s nice - we love playing at home in front of our fans,” Jaden Schwartz added. “It gives us a lot of energy and we’re home for a few weeks now, so we’ll settle in and make sure it starts tonight with a good heavy team in San Jose. We don’t want to look too far ahead, but at the same time, we know we have a seven-game home stand, but we’ll focus on tonight and we’ll look at the other games later.”

Tonight brings the San Jose Sharks to town, a team that will be hungry for a win after getting beat by the Blues 7-2 last Saturday at SAP Center. In that game, Oshie scored his second career hat trick and a four-point night, while Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk also scored four points.

Oshie said there’s plenty to take away from that game.

“I think (we take) what we did good - getting pucks deep, trying to wear their ‘D’ down and try to do it again tonight, but we expect a real big push from them,” he said. “We got the best of them that game. We always have great games, the score is rarely like that when we play San Jose.

“It’s going to be a good game tonight, it’s going to be tough, and we’ve got to be ready to drop the puck.”

Added Shattenkirk, “How successful we are at home, how well we play in this building - we look at it as a very exciting opportunity for us to make a little push here and catch some of these teams that are ahead of us. It’s such a tight division and such a tight conference, you have to use your home games to your advantage.

“We’re a team that plays well in Scottrade Center, and for us to let this slip away would be a real shame.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 2:31 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

GLENDALE - As the Blues get set to meet the Arizona Coyotes tonight (8 p.m., FSMW, KMOX), it’ll be Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie leading the way.

The Blues’ top line has contributed 20 points in their last five games. And while it’s Oshie and Steen showing up most on the score sheet, both are crediting Backes for making it happen.

“He’s creating so much space for us, it’s unbelievable,” Steen said of the Blues’ captain. “He’s been great. He does a lot of stuff that doesn’t really get a lot of credit, but us boys, we know what he does.”

Added Oshie, “He’s occupying the front of the net and he’s taking the goalies’ eyes away. Without Backs doing his job, me and Steener aren’t on the score sheet.”

Last week alone, Oshie led all NHL players with five goals and shared the League lead in points with seven. Saturday against San Jose, he netted his second career hat trick and his second career four-point game.

Steen also tallied seven points last week, recording an assist on Dec. 30 against Nashville, a goal and an assist Jan. 2 in Anaheim and a four-point game Saturday in San Jose.

“They play the game the right way. There’s no other way to describe it,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Steen-Backes-Oshie line. “Between ‘pucks deep’ and ‘puck support’ and ‘second-man quick’, all of the terminology that we use, they do it. They’re a perfect example of the way we need to play to win, and I can trot them out all the time.

“It’s a good feeling from a coaching standpoint, knowing you’ve got your top players playing the right way every night, it really gives you something to follow.”

Added Oshie, “I think when we play together, we all seem to play the same way. It’s good. I think we compliment each other really well, and when all three guys are working, it just makes the game that much easier.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.05.2015 / 5:21 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / DraftKings Fantasy Report

This week’s DraftKings Fantasy Report is a bit unusual.

Rather than recommending one Blue to boost your fantasy team, we’re going to recommend three.

More specifically, T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen and David Backes, who have combined for 20 points over their last five games.

Oshie, who was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star for the week ending Jan. 4, led all NHL players with five goals. He also shared the League lead with seven points. On Saturday, he recorded his second career hat trick and second career four-point game in a 7-2 win against San Jose.

Steen also had seven points last week. After being held off the scoresheet on Dec. 29 in Colorado, Steen registered an assist Dec. 30 against Nashville, a goal and an assist on Jan. 2 in Anaheim and then tallied his third career four-point game on Saturday in San Jose.

Backes had three assists over the last week but has been receiving all of the credit from his linemates.

“He’s creating so much space for us, it’s unbelievable,” Steen said. “He’s been great. He does a lot of stuff that doesn’t really get a lot of credit, but us boys, we know what he does.”

Added Oshie, “He’s occupying the front of the net and he’s taking the goalies’ eyes away. Without Backs doing his job, me and Steener aren’t on the scoresheet.”

If you can nab any of these three for your fantasy team, now’s the time to do it. The line is red hot entering this week’s action.

SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Jan. 6 at Arizona Coyotes
Jan. 8 vs. San Jose Sharks
Jan. 10 vs. Carolina Hurricanes

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, 01.03.2015 / 1:58 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blues Overtime Blog

SAN JOSE - The Blues will get Jaden Schwartz back in the lineup tonight in San Jose, where his club meets the Sharks at 9:30 p.m. at SAP Center (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).

Schwartz has missed seven games with a right foot injury. He was injured blocking a shot in the third period of a 5-2 win vs. Los Angeles on Dec. 16.

“I’m really excited (to be back),” Schwartz said. “No one likes sitting out and it’s tough to watch games. I haven’t had too many hard skates, but hopefully I find it early in the game and get my feet moving. It might take a couple shifts, but I’m really excited to get into the game.”

Schwartz joined the team in practice Thursday. As far as tonight, at least for the early going, he’s just planning on keeping it simple.

“Just managing my shifts. I don’t want to get caught out there too long. I think that could affect me for the shifts after,” he said. “Keep it simple early and as the game goes on, when I get time and space, I can make plays. But right off the bat, I don’t want to do too much. Just keep it simple, keep the shifts short and try to set the tone with my feet moving and my speed.

Prior to the injury to Schwartz, the Blues had won five consecutive games. He currently ranks third on the team in points (27), while his 11 goals are second only to Vladimir Tarasenko (22).

“(We’re in) a little bit of a slump here, but hopefully I can try and contribute,” Schwartz said. “Once we get the first one, guys will get a little more confidence back.”

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 47 31 10 6 139 124 68
2 NSH 45 30 10 5 137 104 65
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 48 26 14 8 135 117 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 45 26 16 3 124 114 55
8 CGY 47 25 19 3 136 125 53
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 48 20 18 10 125 137 50
11 DAL 46 21 18 7 144 151 49
12 MIN 46 20 20 6 128 137 46
13 ARI 46 16 25 5 105 156 37
14 EDM 47 12 26 9 109 158 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 46 24 23 23 47
A. Steen 44 15 25 8 40
K. Shattenkirk 46 8 31 17 39
J. Schwartz 39 16 21 15 37
D. Backes 45 16 17 5 33
J. Lehtera 45 9 21 16 30
T. Oshie 38 13 15 11 28
A. Pietrangelo 46 4 23 0 27
P. Stastny 38 9 16 5 25
P. Berglund 45 6 9 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 13 5 2 .930 1.86
J. Allen 13 5 2 .900 2.65

 
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