Rattie shining even after Traverse City; Elliott gets nod tonight
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- With so little time between days of practice and the first preseason game tonight against Tampa Bay, Blues coach Davis Payne was asked to sum up what he's seen with the Blue and Gold units divided up into two-plus hour long sessions.
"A few guys had good days, but there's a lot going on in a double session like that," Payne said after Monday's practice sessions at St. Louis Mills' Ice Zone. "A day like this is geared to the power play guy, the offensive guy, the guys who are finishing off some plays. I thought some of the right guys will get into those situations.
"Andy McDonald was jumping to the right spots. I thought (Alex Pietrangelo's) puck possession (and) power play stuff looked pretty good. I thought (Evgeny) Grachev had a real solid day. He looked very very comfortable in offensive situations. ... The right guys showed. I'm not going to start singling guys out. You have 54 of them out there. I think you're going to end up missing some. A lot of concepts covered but a lot of good stuff shown as well."
* Rattie shining -- The Blues' top 2011 pick, forward Ty Rattie, had a good tournament up in Traverse City with the rest of the prospects and is having a good time of it with the big boys here.
Rattie, 18, had such a good time in Michigan, "I was about to throw up before that first game. I was so nervous."
Rattie picked up two goals and added four assists in four games, helping the Blues go 3-1 and finish in third place.
"I played with (Philip) McRae and (Jay) Barriball and it was a huge help," Rattie said. "I owe a lot of credit to them how I played there."
Payne likes how he's performed here.
"It was his type of day today ... the offensive stuff. ... He's got those kinds of skills," Payne said. "He's got those kinds of instincts ... very, very comfortable with the puck on his stick, real good heads-up vision. When he gets in some tight areas, he's got confidence to make his play. Some of that stuff is hard to teach when you've got that kind of poise as an 18-year-old. It's a pretty good start."
Rattie will eventually be returned to his Western Hockey League team, the Portland Winterhawks, but in the meantime is making the best of his situation here in St. Louis.
"Any time an 18-year-old gets invited to an NHL camp is a blessing," Rattie said. "To watch all these guys and get the little habits they do, even after the practice or before the practice to prepare is huge. I'm thankful I got to come here. I'm looking forward to the time I have left here.
"It's night and day. It's a big wake-up call for myself and the first-year guys but it's a great experience."
* Elliott gets start -- It will be Brian Elliott first up on the docket when the Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in the first preseason game of the season.
Elliott, signed to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1 to compete with Ben Bishop for the backup job in goal to Jaroslav Halak, will likely play the whole game, according to Payne.
"The intention is to not split any games," Payne said. "From our philosophy, we'd like to see a guy come in start a game, finish a game. Splitting a game ... the complexion of a game may change and it may change your evaluation of the performances, so we want to see guys play the games to their entirety."
Elliott, who split time with Ottawa and Colorado last season, said he'll handle it like any game.
"You don't want to put too much pressure on yourself," he said. "You just want to play like you normally can. When you start thinking about games too much, that's when things go haywire. You just want to stay even-keeled and approach it like any other game and try to do the best for the guys in front of you."