Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blues drop exhibition opener to Avalanche

Halak makes debut; Berglund's
shorthanded tally only St. Louis goal

ST. LOUIS -- Tough to gauge what to make of the Blues' 3-1 preseason loss to the Colorado Tuesday night.

Some decent glimpses were visible from a number of players, but as is the case in any preseason opener, there were some glaring deficiencies as well.

Patrik Berglund netted the lone Blues' goal, a shorthanded effort off a steal-and-feed from T.J. Oshie, Jaroslav Halak made his Blues debut and played the entire game before being lifted for a sixth-attacker with 2 minutes 19 seconds remaining.

The big fireworks for the announced crowd of 10,615 at Scottrade Center came with 6:25 to play when Barret Jackman and Anthony Peluso were in the middle of a brawl that resulted in 26 minutes in penalties, including 10-minute misconducts each for Peluso and Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau.

What may be surprising is that it took the veteran Jackman to spark a fire, considering there were a number of players on the ice for the Blues that are battling for jobs on the NHL level.

"Just had to stick up for myself. I got hit," Jackman said, referring to Bordeleau. "I don't care if it's exhibition or the regular season. I play the same way.

"It's not the old NHL where you have five, 10 fights. It's different. It's more of a skill game, but there's still the need for the rough stuff and it showed."

Jackman was paired with Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues' top pick (No. 4 overall) in 2008, and Erik Johnson was paired on the blue line with Brett Ponich, the team's second-round pick (48th overall). Oshie and Berglund played well, as they were on a line with Matt D'Agostini.

"Brett Ponich played a solid game for a guy who's a big defenseman who uses his stick and his angles well," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "I thought Osh played well, but other than that, we'd like to see some more from guys who are either trying to stake a claim in the lineup or stake a claim within that lineup.

"Some of these guys who are here to make a statement with the opportunity that's there for them, I thought were slow to get to that point."

Halak, acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens in June for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz, stopped 15 of 18 shots but allowed a pair of second-period goals in a 31-second span to David Jones and Luke Walker.

"The first game is always the tough one after the break you have," Halak said. "... We did some really good things out there.

"Not a lot of action was going on (in front of the Blues' net). It wasn't really a hard game for me. Too bad they scored three goals."

The Blues outshot the Avs 34-18 in the game and were 0-for-6 on the power play.

The Blues' Gold squad will travel to Minnesota today for a game against the Wild at 7 p.m.

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