By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Initially, the shock was obvious for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. Nobody wants -- or expects -- to be traded.
But looking back at the last month and a half since that Feb. 19 blockbuster between the Blues (36-33-10) and Colorado Avalanche (29-41-8), both Blues players have enjoyed some great success in their new uniforms.
Stewart, who has 14 goals and 22 points in 23 games, which includes a pair of game-winners, seven power play goals and a plus-4 rating, says the deal is a blessing looking back on it.
"It's probably what I needed," he said. "I got a fresh start here with a good, young team. I got a chance to come in here and play top minutes. I've gotten along with the coaching staff and the players. It's been great.
"I came in here and started producing right away, so that's obviously going to make the adjustment easier. This is a great locker room. We've got lots of big pieces of the puzzle here. We've got great youth, good goaltending, we've got that great veteran leadership, too."
Stewart, Shattenkirk and a conditional second-round pick came to the Blues. Going to Colorado were Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first-round pick.
It was the biggest trade of this NHL season, and judging by numbers alone, the Blues must feel like this was a one-sided deal for them.
"Just the way we looked at it coming in here, we really didn't know what to expect," said Shattenkirk, who has a goal and 13 assists in 23 games and a plus-7 rating. "I think we came here and not only are we playing on a great team with a great future with good youth and future contenders, but we came into a great group of guys. We left a lot of friends there in Colorado, but I think it's been a great fit for both of us.
"I kind of pictured Chris (having offensive success) for sure. He's a gamer when it comes down to it. He's always going to try and prove people wrong. He has that fire, so he definitely came in and did a great job. I've been fortunate to get some power play time and it's been pretty easy for me to get points."
As for Johnson and McClement, the numbers may not indicate so but the transition has been smoother for each as time passes.
Johnson has three goals and 10 points and is minus-4 in 20 games with the Avalanche while McClement has a goal and three points and is minus-8 in 20 games.
"The last five or six games, I've started to get my game back a little bit," said McClement, who picked up a goal and an assist Friday in Phoenix and will play in his 257th straight game tonight. "I've felt like a little more like myself out there and playing the way I need to play.
"The first little while, I didn't feel great. I felt like I could bring a lot more to the table. It took a little time to get comfortable with the surroundings and the system and the way we play here. I definitely feel better."
Johnson, who's minutes have increased since his time spent in Colorado, likes what the future has in store with the Avalanche.
"It's a team with a bright, young future," Johnson said. "There's a lot of promise ahead for sure.
"Obviously, we'd like to win some more games (this season), but sometimes you've got to play the cards you're dealt. ... We've played some pretty good hockey here lately. I've fit into the system pretty well; just go out and play my game free and clear mentally. I think that that was the biggest thing that kind of held me back here was confidence. I think I have my confidence here."
Johnson, who scored the go-ahead goal the last time the Avs were here on Feb. 22 in a 4-3 Colorado victory, doesn't expect the same warm reception tonight.
"I don't think it'll be the same just because I had to go out and score on them last time," Johnson joked. "I would expect a little more boo's since I went out and scored the last game."
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The Blues, 4-1-1 in their last six games, will not make any lineup changes after Sunday's 6-1 win at Columbus.
They will be looking for their first win against the Avalanche since the 2008-09 season tonight when the two teams meet for the fourth and final time this season at 7 p.m. The game will be moved to KYKY 98.1-FM and will be seen on FSN's secondary channel due to the Cardinals game with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Andy McDonald-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Matt D'Agostini-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Alex Steen-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Porter
Ryan Reaves-B.J. Crombeen-Cam Janssen
Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Nikita Nikitin-Roman Polak
Jaroslav Halak, 1-2-0 with a 4.04 goals-against average and .883 save percentage career-wise against Colorado, starts tonight.
David Perron (concussion) continues to sit out and will not play again this season, although the Blues have not officially shut him down for the season.
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The Avalanche have not lost to the Blues since April 12, 2009 (1-0 in Colorado on the last day of the regular season), will look for another 4-0-0 sweep with a win tonight.
The Avs are missing nine regulars from their lineup and have 433 man-games lost due to injury coming into the game compared to the Blues' 308.
The Avs are missing Kyle Cumiskey (whiplash), Tomas Fleischmann (pulmonary emboli), Adam Foote (leg), T.J. Galiardi (forearm), Cameron Gaunce (hand), Peter Mueller (concussion), Kyle Quincey (shoulder) and recently lost Paul Stastny for the season with a stress fracture and John-Michael Liles with a concussion.
Kevin Porter-Matt Duchene-Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik-Mark Olver-David Jones
Cody McLeod-Philippe Dupuis-Brandon Yip
Ryan O'Reilly-Jay McClement-Ryan Stoa
Matt Hunwick-Erik Johnson
Ryan Wilson-Ryan O'Byrne
Jonas Holos-David Koci
Peter Budaj, who is 10-5-0 with a 2.50 GAA and .913 save percentage in his career against the Blues, goes for the Avalanche tonight.