I'd like to issue an apology for screaming (with capital letters) while tweeting during the first period of Friday's game in Calgary.
But can you blame me?
That save from Jake Allen, who was making just his second NHL start, was just so darn unbelievable.
"It's a great feeling. It's something you work for your whole life," Allen told reporters after the morning skate. "You want to make the most of it. It's hopefully another step in my career. It's more experience under my belt and I'm looking forward to the challenge tonight."
It won't be Allen’s first NHL appearance, however. Just last week, he played 31 minutes in relief of Brian Elliott on Feb. 5, where he made 6 saves on 8 shots in the Blues’ 6-1 loss to Nashville. In addition, Allen saw just over one minute of playoff action last season in Game 2 of the Blues’ second-round series vs. Los Angeles.
With Jaroslav Halak still out of the lineup with a strained groin and Brian Elliott struggling, Hitchcock has decided to give Allen his first chance to start between the pipes.
If he plays, the 35-year-old defenseman would be appearing in an NHL game for the first time since Apr. 11, 2010.
“It’s a chance to come back and show I can play and just be part of a team,” Redden said. “We’ve got a good team here, and I want to help the team win and have some success.”
Redden spent 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, most of which were spent playing alongside Zdeno Chara. Redden signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, but struggled in New York. He spent the last two seasons with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.
Now, the Blues have given him another chance to play in the NHL.
Elliott picked up his first win of the season yesterday in relief of Jaroslav Halak. Elliott stopped all 13 shots he faced and then turned aside two Predators in the shootout to help the Blues to their second consecutive win.
“You just want to do your best for the guys,” Elliott said after the game. “When you get thrown in the fire, obviously (with) the long layover that we had last year (and) my first action of the year, it’s almost better to get in there with really nothing to lose and go out there and play your game. Let the guys in front of you do their job.”
Tonight’s game begins at 5 p.m. on FS Midwest (HD) and KMOX 1120 AM.
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said he expects a tough game due to the similarities between the teams.
“We both have similar strengths, both have to work to generate scoring chances, both teams go to the net hard, both teams follow a script of a certain philosophy as far as play goes,” Hitchcock said. “Both teams really rely on their forwards to do a lot of work. That’s just the way both teams are built and the way both teams are structured.”
After the Blues’ win on Saturday, Hitchcock stressed the importance of not getting too high or too low during the season.
“This is one game,” Hitchcock said Saturday night. “Let’s evaluate us after 10 games and see what we’ve got. But I liked that we stayed on the hunt, except for the first two shifts, we stayed on the hunt for the rest of the game, which is a real good sign.”
As I left my house to drive in to work today, I searched through the music on my iPod, trying to find the perfect song to play on this bright, surprisingly-warm-for-a-January-morning-in-St.-Louis day.
I scrolled through hundreds of artists (most of them of the country variety), but stopped on a song that caught my eye: Brookroyal's "Bleed Blue." (Listen on YouTube)
That song was the theme for the Blues' postseason last year, and listening to it reminded me that the Blues will begin the season tonight the same way they finished the last one: as the NHL's Central Division Champions.
And that got me thinking a little bit: if last year brought a division title, how much further can this season's team go?
We had originally intended to provide scoring and stats from the second (and final) scrimmage of Training Camp tonight. But after two periods and a 1-1 tie between Team Blue and Team White, several players switched teams so Head Coach Ken Hitchcock could get a good look at the power-play and penalty-kill units.
As a result, our scoring resembled nothing close to official, and there was really no scientific way to bring you team stats or a final score. So we decided the best way to cover Thursday's scrimmage was to provide you with some notes worth mentioning.
It's officially hockey season.
The Blues opened Training Camp at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Scottrade Center, and fans turned out by the thousands (yes, literally) to watch the team take the ice for the first time during the 2012-13 season.
More than 5,500 fans showed up for Sunday's practice, a clear sign that Blues fans are among the most passionate in the League.
"It was pretty awesome for us," forward Jamie Langenbrunner said. "You never know how people are going to react coming out of this, but we were pretty sure our fans were going to be there for us. They showed today how supportive they are. It's a special feeling for us."
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said he wants to add more size and speed to the lineup, so Ryan Reaves and Ian Cole will suit up to play in Game 4.
For Reaves, it'll be his first game since Game 1 of the Quarterfinals vs. San Jose, but he's not worried about his nerves.
"I think the butterflies left in Game 1," he said. "I got my first taste, and now it's about doing what I do and get excited."
Cole last played in Game 2 against the Kings on April 30.
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Alex Pietrangelo will return to the lineup tonight when the Blues meet the Kings in Game 3 at Staples Center.
Pietrangelo missed one game after being shoved into the boards by Kings' forward Dwight King in Game 1, but he participated in a full practice Wednesday and Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock declared him good to go after Thursday's gameday skate.
"It's huge. He's arguably our best player," Hitchcock said Thursday. "When you have a player who touches all three aspects of your game, five-on-five, (penalty kill) and (power play), and then he leaves the game quickly, there's a huge adjustment you have to go through. Getting him back is huge for us and hopefully we can surround him with better play.
"It's hard to believe that one player makes that big of a difference, but obvously in our game, he did. So we're hoping the whole stability part gets back to our team where we've got the right players playing in the right situations."
Hitchcock also said that Pietrangelo wouldn't be eased back into the lineup. Instead, expect him to get plenty of ice time.
"There's going to be no tie down on allowing him to play the minutes. He's going to have to play big minutes, he knows that, so we waited until the last possible minute where he could play with no reservations. He's there now."
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