Is there anything more exciting than Opening Night?
It all started back in 1967 with the likes of Red Berenson, Bob and Barclay Plager, Al Arbour and Glenn Hall. It continued through the years with hockey legends like Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger, and tonight at 7:30 p.m., it continues with the legends of tomorrow: David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jaroslav Halak, just to name a few.
It’s a chance to start fresh, to forget about the shortcomings of the past while figuring out how to succeed now and in the future. It’s about sacrifice: blood, sweat and tears in exchange for hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.
Yeah…there’s nothing quite like Opening Night.
Here’s what some of the players had to say about the start of the season and what it means to them:
Brenden Morrow: “It’s another opportunity to win that ultimate prize. That first game is huge. You put in all the work in the summertime to prepare for that first game. Having the excitement and electricity that the fans put into the building, it’s very special.”
Magnus Paajarvi: "A new city, a new team, it's definitely exciting for me. Maybe a little bit more than if I had been here a couple years. I'm sure this will be special."
Kevin Shattenkirk: “It’s nice to start in your own building. I think the fans are champing at the bit just as much as you are. The lights, the production beforehand is something you don’t get in any other game. It’s nice to go through that and it gets you fired up. We still have that nervous energy too. There’s a lot of adrenaline flowing in here. When we’re standing in the tunnels getting ready to go out on the ice, you can feel in the entire arena that it’s a different night.”
Jordan Leopold: “You dream of being an NHL hockey player as a kid. To go through an Opening Night, it reminds you that you’re in the journey and you’ve made it. You think this is going to last forever, but it’s not. There are only so many more Opening Nights for myself going forward. It’s special that I get to bring my family. My kids get a kick out of Opening Night with all the theatrics before the game, the dark, crowd, the lights, all that wonderful stuff. (This) marks a journey that we start through the rest of the year. We definitely have a goal in mind, and that’s to be where we want to be and finish some unfinished business we didn’t accomplish last year.”
NO TRACK MEETS...HOPEFULLY
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock watched the Opening Night games around the League on Tuesday and indicated that those games usually serve as a wake-up call to NHL coaches.
“You think you’ve done everything and put it in place, and then the temperature goes way up,” Hitchcock said. “We get excited like everybody else to get going, but when you watch stuff like that, you get a little bit worried.”
In three games on Tuesday night, a combined 26 goals were scored. Those games, labeled “track meets” by Hitchcock, are usually part of the game for the first 14-21 days. You can he’ll be preaching defensive responsibility to his team tonight against Nashville.
“I think we’ve got so much to build on from our last exhibition game, the way we played, the chances we created off our checking and all the things we like to do that are the hallmark of our franchise, they looked like they were trending in the right direction,” he said.
Jaroslav Halak starts in goal tonight against Nashville. He is 8-3-3 against the Predators in his career with a 1.74 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and four shutouts.
Brenden Morrow is currently working through a work visa issue and may not be able to play in tonight’s game. Hitchcock said if the issues aren’t ironed out in time, Magnus Paajarvi will slide into his spot in the lineup. Hitchcock likes what he’s seen from Paajarvi in practice as of late.
Here's what Hitchcock had to say on the likelihood that Morrow's visa issues are worked out before tonight's game: "I don't know. It's up to the government."
OPENING NIGHT RALLY
This afternoon’s game between the Cardinals and Pirates will be on TVs at the Bud Light Bar outside Scottrade Center. The bar is located near the Opening Night Rally, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and features live music from Paint the Earth and appearances by Blues broadcasters, Alumni, Louie and Blue Crew.
A pregame show with player introductions and a ceremonial puck drop from Brett Hull begin at 7:15 p.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats early for the festivities.
- David Backes and Brenden Morrow are two of only six NHL players to have posted over 650 hits and 150 points since the 2009-10 season. Others are Shea Weber, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan and Alex Ovechkin.
- The Blues are 5-1-0 in their last six games against Nashville. In their last three home games vs. the Predators, the Blues are 2-1, with both wins being 3-0 shutouts.
- The Blues are 11-6-2 all-time on Opening Night at home and have won three of their last four.
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