Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weekend of games for Blues includes last two Cup champs

Chicago in town tonight, Pittsburgh to follow Saturday

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Playing the defending Stanley Cup champs is quite the challenge for one team to face. But for the Blues, how about a weekend of Stanley Cup champs?

Not only do the Blues get to see last year's Cup winners in Chicago, but how about a stop from the 2008-09 champs as well?

The Blues (2-1-2), who entertain the Blackhawks today at 7 p.m. (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) in a rematch of Monday's 3-2 overtime victory for Chicago at United Center, will then turn around 24 hours later and play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It's not often that one team gets to play the last two Stanley Cup winners on back-to-back nights, let alone on home ice. But this is what the Blues will look at beginning tonight.

"It's pretty cool. It's kind of exciting," said winger David Perron, who scored both Blues goals Monday in Chicago. "It's going to be a good standard for us to be able to beat these teams. We'll have to dictate the play and play our game. We know we can do it. We have confidence in this room. We've played pretty well so far this season although we haven't gotten the results we've wanted every game."

Added winger T.J. Oshie, "I can't imagine how out of control it's going to be. The more excited (the fans) are, the more they hype us up. The louder the better."

Before looking at Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins, the Blues must exorcise their demons of Monday's loss at Chicago, one which they led 2-0 with just under seven minutes to play.

"Very big weekend. We've got Chicago, which is a divisional game and obviously we recognize where things slipped away from us in their building," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We've got to be sharp tomorrow night against them and certainly against Pittsburgh. These are two teams we're talking about being the cream of the crop in the East and West, respectively. We want to be right there, so we want to make sure we play our brand of hockey. That's our intent."

The Blues' intent against the Blackhawks is to not allow a late lead to wither away again.

"It's fresh in our mind what their tendencies are," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of the Hawks, who are 5-2-1 and winners of four straight. "We know what they're capable of, so in that sense, it's a positive thing for us. You want to get those two points back that we gave them."

Said Perron, "After a loss like that, you have to bounce back and play the right way. I think we've done that. It's just a question about closing out the game. ... It's just a question of getting some experience. We're right there. I'm not worrying at all."

The Blues are trying to right a ship that went awry on a three-game trip that saw them go 0-1-2 despite the fact they played three winnable games.

"They're big games for us to get back on track here and two pretty big games at home," Pietrangelo said. "They're two pretty good hockey teams. I think everybody knows that. For us, it's all about playing a pretty good game on Friday and try to take that momentum into Saturday."

* NOTES -- Payne once again tinkered with line combinations Thursday, putting Brad Boyes back with Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund. Matt D'Agostini was skating on right wing with Alex Steen and Jay McClement. The top line of Perron, David Backes and T.J. Oshie remained in tact, and Vlad Sobotka centered the fourth line with Brad Winchester and B.J. Crombeen. ... Former Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Donald Fehr was in town Thursday meeting with Blues players and will do so with the Penguins on Friday. Fehr is in line to become the NHLPA executive director and a vote will take place within the next couple weeks. ... IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, in town to participate in the Nationwide race at Gateway International Raceway on Saturday, will drop the ceremonial first puck for tonight's game against the Blackhawks.

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