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Chris Pinkert has covered the St. Louis Blues for more than seven seasons and will frequently contribute news, analysis and stories from the locker room to the Blue Note Insider blog. Check back often for exclusive behind the scenes access to the Blues and be sure to follow him on Twitter at @BlueNoteInsider

Blues Ready for Game 1

Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 12:02 PM
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues / Blue Note Insider
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Blues Ready for Game 1

The Blues lost all four games against the Kings in last year’s playoffs, and they lost all three regular season meetings this year.

So why does Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock think this time around will be different?

“The one thing we have going for us is I don’t think they know our team, because they haven’t played against this team,” Hitchcock said after today’s practice. “This is a different team than they played even here in the 4-2 (loss on March 28), and it’s a much different team than they played in the 6-4 (loss on March 5). What we’re hoping on is the way we played at the end of the year in the last six weeks is what our team is and we’re good enough to play against them.

“We’ve been preparing for this for 10 days and we think we’re ready.”

Since last playing the Kings on March 28, the Blues have won 12 of their last 15 games.

The Kings had an impressive 16-4 record last season in the playoffs en route to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Hitchcock said they are the only team in the League with the knowledge of what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.

“They know how deep they have to go, they know how deep they have to dig. Nobody has that knowledge,” Hitchcock said. “We’re all trying to get it, but they’ve got it. We’re going to have to find that if we expect to win because they’re not going to give us anything easy.”

BLUES LINEUP

As has been his mantra lately, Hitchcock told members of the media not to read into today’s lines in practice.

But here’s what we know for sure: T.J. Oshie will return to the lineup tonight after missing a month with an ankle injury. Oshie will replace rookie Vladimir Tarasenko.

Said Hitchcock: “I’ve always believed the first kick at the can in playoffs is for veteran players. You give them a go. Tarasenko and (Dmitrij) Jaskin will probably get some time during the playoffs, but you want to give the veterans a chance to prove they want to take the ball and run with it. That’s what we’re going to do. If somebody underperforms, we won’t hesitate to replace and move from there.”

Expect Barret Jackman back in the lineup tonight, too. He said he would have played on April 27 vs. Chicago if it had been a playoff game. Well, tonight is a playoff game.

The fourth line of Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves and Adam Cracknell will remain together tonight. Porter and Cracknell will make their NHL playoff debuts.

“To be where we are now, we’ve very grateful of what we had to go through to be here,” Cracknell said. “Sitting on the bus in Peoria, you don’t think you’re going to be playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions. We’ll never forget what it took to get here, but we have to live in the moment right now and take care of what we have to do tonight. That’s why we’re here.”

Jay Bouwmeester and Jaden Schwartz will also make their playoff debuts.

“Everyone knows the atmosphere and everything that goes with these games,” Bouwmeester said. “It’s something you look forward to. Everyone has those little butterflies I guess, but I think once you get in the game, it all goes away and you just play hockey.”

‘NOTEWORTHY

  • Brian Elliott will start in goal. He’s looking for his 12th win in April, which would extend his new franchise record set earlier this month.
  • The Blues allowed just one power-play goal on 21 opportunities against the Kings in Round 2 last season.
  • How important is home-ice advantage? The Blues are 45-13-6 at home since 2011-12 and have outscored opponents at Scottrade Center 176-120 (+56).
  • David Backes had 30 hits vs. LA last season, ranking fifth overall in the League.
  • Vladimir Sobotka, Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron each have two-game point streaks against the Kings.
  • The pregame rally starts at 4:30 p.m. outside Scottrade Center tonight. The Blues have prize giveaways, live music and more planned. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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