By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Unlike NFL players, NHL guys have the luxury of hitting somebody else just a few days into training camp.
Just four days after opening camp at St. Louis Mills, the Blues will line up against another opponent when they open the preseason slate today against the Colorado Avalanche at 7 p.m.
"There's that competitive edge here in the first couple days of training camp playing against each other, especially in (Sunday's) scrimmage," forward T.J. Oshie said. "Guys weren't going out there trying to hurt people. There were some big hits, but it's going to be nice out here when you can see some guys that are physical to really step into their roles.
"You almost feel bad hitting someone when they have their head down from your own team."
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It may only be a preseason game, but for Blues forward T.J. Hensick, it's the chance to prove to the team that traded him away that he can still play.
Hensick, acquired by the Blues in June from the Avalanche for prospect Julian Talbot, spent most of 2009-10 with the Avs' AHL club in Lake Erie. He registered 20 goals and 70 points in 58 games, while only collecting one goal and three points in seven games with Colorado.
"I'm pretty tight with a lot of those guys," Hensick said of his former teammates. "I talked to Chris Stewart for a couple minutes last night. Coincidently, it just happens to be Colorado.
"For me, it's just playing my game, trying to show St. Louis I can still play in the NHL and I'm deserving of a spot."
Hensick, 24, is right in the mix competing for one of the last slots at forward and regardless of friends tonight, it's another opponent.
"Game on for sure," Hensick joked. "I was with Colorado, but I'm in St. Louis now. I'm still fighting for a spot, and no matter who's on the other side, I just gotta go."
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The Blues will dress 20 players tonight.
The lineup for tonight's game is as follows:
T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Matt D'Agostini
Nick Drazenovic-Andy McDonald-David Spina
Brett Sonne-T.J. Hensick-Anthony Peluso
Brad Winchester-Dave Scatchard-Ryan Reaves
Anthony Nigro and Cody Beach were the extra forwards and will not play tonight.
The defensive pairings are:
Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo
Brett Ponich-Erik Johnson
Dean Arsene-Nathan Oystrick
Brennan Evans and Carlo Colaiacovo were the extra d-men and will not dress.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal and play roughly half the game and will be relieved by Jake Allen.