Friday, January 21, 2011


Halak save gains attention; Boyes moving on up

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Jaroslav Halak's not exactly the kind of guy that will openly boast about himself. But even the Blues' netminder had to take a gander at YouTube Thursday night.

Halak's save with 39 seconds remaining on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader not only saved the Blues from a disastrous ending but also preserved a point in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Red Wings after battling back from a 3-0 deficit.

Click on link to see video:

"I seen it last night on the internet," Halak said Friday after practice. "I didn't know how it stayed out, but it did.

"Luck was on my side. I'm glad at least we were able to get one point."

Halak was able to go from right to left and thwart Abdelkader after a centering feed from Henrik Zetterberg. Halak initially got a knee on the puck but also kicked it out for good measure in what would have given the Wings a 4-3 lead towards the end of regulation.

"I know Zetterberg was coming at me," Halak said. "I just tried to cut his angle. I got a little bit out of position and he passed it in front of the net. I lost the puck for a second. The next thing I know, it hit my pads, my knee. I was just trying to keep it out of the net ... somehow, anyhow. I just kicked it out. I mean, it was a lucky save."

The highlight made ESPN's Top 10 plays of the night.

"We were well aware of how much time was on that clock," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We got the game back and the tendency is to be pushing and pushing and pushing knowing that you've got to get that game tied. All of the sudden you get the game tied and there's a deep inhale, deep exhale. In that moment between the two, Detroit came charging pretty hard and we were fortunate Jaro recognized the important time to come up with a great save."

Jay McClement got a good look at it from close range.

"I saw it live and that's what we need him to do," McClement said of Halak. "He saved a point there for sure. ... It's nice to have him for sure to make saves like that, a save that probably shouldn't be made. He has the ability to do it. He's a game-changer and he can do that for us."

* Scoreboard watching -- The Blues (22-17-7), who entertain the Columbus Blue Jackets (22-20-5) tonight at 7, are currently in 11th place in a crowd of Western Conference teams that are grouped as if they were packed in sardines.

The Blues are only three points out of eighth and just seven points out of fourth place. Each night, the standings seem to change dramatically and the players admit it's the time of year to pay close attention to what's going on.

"It's important to know where you stand in the standings," Halak said. "It's important to know every game you play to at least get one point.

"The standings are tight. It's not going to be any different until the end of the year. We just need to make sure these 36 games that we battle hard and try to do our best every night we play."

Some players admit they pay no attention to other teams but only themselves but that's a stretch, according to McClement.

"Anybody who says they don't look once in a while is probably lying because everyone's paying attention," he said. "Everyone knows where we're at. You just can't fall too far behind. We've learned that in years past. You can't wait until the last 10-15 games or whatever it may be. We're in a decent position. It always could be better, but we're always watching what other teams do. Right now, it's hard to know who to look at because it seems like everyone's getting points. That's what we need to do just to keep pace."

The Blues are in a better position this year as opposed to last but understand a hot stretch of games can go a long way right now.

"We're right there," McClement said. "It's so tight. It's 2-3 points each way. You have a good 2-3 weeks and you could be up to fifth or sixth, it's that tight. We need to get a little more consistency in our game and make sure we get points in our fair share of games and not be so streaky."

* Boyes elevated to top line -- Blues forward Brad Boyes, who played seven games with Brad Winchester and McClement on the team's third line and who's played on the third unit since Dec. 21, was elevated to the top line with David Backes and Alex Steen for the third period.

Payne made the switch based on Boyes' play in the game and pulled Matt D'Agostini all the way down to the fourth line. D'Agostini practiced Friday with McClement and Winchester.

"I made the switch last night because I didn't feel we were getting enough from that spot," Payne said. "I thought that Boysie was having a strong forechecking game, his pursuit game was on, he was moving his feet, looking to play inside the battle space that is required against Detroit. I felt he would be a good mix with Steener and David. Now it's up to him to continue that.

"We've had a lot of guys pushing for quite some time, carrying a lot of the mail, and he needs to step forward and take his part in that. Last night was a great first step in that."

Boyes set up Backes' tying goal when he and Steen crashed the net hard and each were able to make plays.

* Blue line injury -- Defenseman Barret Jackman was the lone participant not on the ice for practice Friday, and afterwards, Payne indicated that Jackman would be questionable for tonight's game.

"He's dealing with some things," Payne said, not elaborating on the extent of what's ailing the veteran d-man. "He's got a sore lower-body. Questionable for tomorrow's game."

Jackman appeared to get tangled up with Abdelkader in the goal crease after Halak's key stop but finished the game.

Tyson Strachan would step into the lineup if Jackman is unable to go. He was skating with Ian Cole on Friday, and Alex Pietrangelo was on the left side in Jackman's spot with Roman Polak.

* McDonald, Perron reaction -- There was some relief around the locker room after news that both Andy McDonald and David Perron are getting healthy and are working their way back towards the lineup.

Both McDonald and Perron are dealing with concussion-related symptoms and have missed significant time. Perron has missed 36 games since Nov. 4, McDonald 21 games since Dec. 4.

"You know these things are going to take time. It's such an unknown," Payne said. "The only thing is you can say accurately about it is every day you take, you're one day closer to the guys returning. When that is, who knows. But it's one more day, and I think these guys are eager to get back and play their part. But we've got to do what's right by the athlete. It's a tricky injury and progress is good for these guys."

There seemed to be an uplifting mood in the locker room Friday.

"The biggest thing for them is getting healthy," McClement said. "You don't want to mess around with stuff like that. It's a tricky one to deal with. It's tough when you don't know the timeframe, you don't know how long it's going to take. It could be a month, it could be six months, it could be a year ... you never know. It's good to see they're progressing and when we get them back, I don't know. It's definitely nice to see them feeling better."

* Berglund getting hot -- Don't look now, but the Blues are beginning to see center Patrik Berglund get on one of those offensive hot streaks.

And coincidentally, former linemate and close friend off the ice T.J. Oshie's return to the lineup has made an immediate impact.

Berglund, who tallied a goal and picked up an assist Thursday, has points in four straight games (two goals, three assists) and goals in two straight after going goal-less in 10.

"One thing Osh does for Bergy is they came into the league together, they were roommates," Payne said. "I think they appreciate each other's play on the ice. They understand each other off the ice, they communicate well together and they just kind of gravitate towards each other. I think there's a common bond. I think having Osh back there with his energy and his enthusiasm, it drags Bergy along. With his size and his skill, when he's got it going like that, those two can be tough to stop."

Berglund, along with Oshie and Vladimir Sobotka are giving the Blues more offensive options on the second line.

"I think we're supporting each other good," Berglund said. "We're finding each other. ... We're creating a lot of scoring chances and hopefully in the future here, we can put in a couple more."

Said Oshie, who scored in his second game back Thursday, "Being the good friends that we are, I think that carries over into the game. (Berglund's) not scared to tell me something, and I'm not scared to tell him something that maybe the other one doesn't want to hear. ... I think that's huge to get chemistry on a line and Sobe's fitting right in. We're having fun out there. We're playing hard."

* Barkin for the Blues -- The Blues will host the 3rd annual Barkin’ for the Blues, benefiting Stray Rescue of St. Louis and St. Charles Humane Society tonight against the Blue Jackets.

A variety of fundraising activities will take place on the concourse throughout the evening. Fans can purchase special Barkin’ for the Blues beads and autographed pucks and can also bid on items in a silent auction.

For a donation, fans can also purchase mystery “doggie bags” with Blues autographed items or Blues tickets.

A special adoption area will be on the concourse outside of Section 124 and fans will have the chance to meet puppies and dogs available for adoption at each shelter.

Barkin ' for the Blues is part of Barret's Buddies and David's Dogs, programs started by Blues players Barret Jackman (Stray Rescue) and David Backes (St. Charles Humane Society) to help neglected and abused animals at these organizations.

Last year’s event raised $10,000 for the local shelters. For more information about the evening or to make a donation, visit

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