By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- It was supposed to be the end of a successful three-game trip that saw the Blues right their ship.
But the Blues, who were supposed to arrive in St. Louis between 4-4:30 p.m. local time Monday afternoon, finally arrived at their destination following a Sunday night game in Vancouver.
However, it was 14 hours later due to mechanical issues with their team's charter plane. The team went back to the hotel, got some rest, played cards and just passed the time away. Suddenly, the hours got longer, and the frustration grew larger.
"Once you realize you're not going to get home, you kind of just put it in the back of your mind and realize it's out of your hands," right winger Chris Stewart said as the team began making its way in for tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks. "You can't really read into the rest situation. We've got to be pros with it. You just take it as it comes."
Added defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk: "Everyone was pretty good about that as far as there's nothing you really can control. You just kind of got to roll with the punches.
"We had a positive road trip. There's a lot we can be happy about from there, but this is a pretty tough stretch here. So to add this to the mix ... we just can't use that as an excuse right now. We have to take whatever we have and use it."
So after getting a day's rest and then being on the ice for the morning skate preparing to face the Sharks (7-4-3) for a Tuesday night game (7 p.m.on NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM), the Blues (9-5-1) were home ... and in bed. They obviously did not skate Tuesday. Only associate coach Brad Shaw was on hand to observe the Sharks skate in preparation for the game.
The Blues' plane finally left at roughly midnight local time in Vancouver and didn't touch down until 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in St. Louis, approximately 12.5 hours prior to the first puck drop.
When asked if he experienced anything quite like this,
Stewart wasted little time thinking about it: "No," he said laughing. "That's as close to
the American (Hockey) League travel you're going to get there as far as rest. We
can take her one of two ways. You can mail it in, pack it in, not show up and
play tonight or we can keep this win streak alive and build some good character
It's not exactly the way to embrace a challenge facing the Blues, who went 3-0-0 on a swing that took them to Detroit, Calgary, Vancouver and finally back to St. Louis.
Shattenkirk, who got in roughly six hours of sleep today, had a similar experience here recently.
"I think my first game in Finland (playing for TPS Turku during the lockout) was crazier than this," Shattenkirk joked, "so I should be ready to go.
"This is pretty unusual. It's going to take a lot to draw whatever we had left here and pour it into tonight. We'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes (when the Blues play at Colorado)."
Awaiting them are a Sharks team that began the season 7-0-0 but have since dropped seven straight, going 0-4-3.
"We can't feel sorry for them or ourselves right now," Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe said of the Blues. "We've just got to play our game."
But Clowe, who was an assistant coach with the San Francisco Bulls of the East Coast Hockey League during the lockout, recalled a similar incident recently.
"When I helped coach (the Bulls), I remember once we bussed to Utah and we got in at like seven in the morning and played that night," Clowe said. "I was like, 'I don't know how you guys do this.' These guys were probably taken back to their minor league days."
Blues left wing David Perron tweeted late Monday night: "This whole trip reminds me of when we were young playing 3-4 games a day during tournaments on the road."
It prompted Sharks coach Todd McLellan to issue a challenge to his players searching for their first win since Jan. 31.
"The message is pretty clear. The obvious one is let's win," McLellan said. "But the question is how do we get to that win. And I think the first one is you've got to look across the hallway at a pretty good team, a competitive team. Our memories aren't that short in how they play and how they battle and compete.
"They're also a team that's played a lot of games, had a tough travel day yesterday. We're the fresh team so we have absolutely no excuse about not being able to out-work or at least be able to out-compete that team all over the rink or attempt to. That's the first message because if you don't out-work teams, you don't win."
"I don't know how they're going to react," McLellan added. "They're well-coached. They're going to be well-prepared. They're playing at home. They're going to play hard and compete, but we know what it's like to travel. We know the toll of being on the road, we know the toll of traveling late. We're fresh. There isn't a player in there that can't say they don't have an energy level that isn't where it's supposed to be, so at the end of the night, whatever happens, I can't come out here and say, 'Boy, the Sharks were tired or we're worn out.' We're fresh and we're ready to play. The effort and the commitment level should be there to match that and then we'll see what it does for us in the game."
The Sharks, in the middle of a six-game trip that saw them break it up after their last game in Chicago Friday, go home and hit the road again on Monday, won't take the Blues for granted Tuesday night.
"It's one of those things that's happened to every team," Sharks left wing Patrick Marleau said. "It's a little adversity. Sometimes teams rise above it, but we've got to focus on what we can control, how we're going to come out and play because we know how they're going to come out and play hard."
- - -
The Blues made a minor deal Tuesday morning involving the Nashville Predators' American Hockey League affiliate Milwaukee Admirals, sending Peoria Rivermen defenseman and captain Scott Ford to the Admirals for Finnish forward Jani Lajunen.
Lajunen, 22, is 6-foot-2, 212 pounds and appeared in 40 games for the Admirals, posting five points. Lajunen was a seventh round pick of the Predators in 2008.
- - -
The Blues obviously didn't skate this morning but after winning three in a row, the lineup will likely remain the same or get tweaked slightly:
David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Alex Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz-Scott Nichol-Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Roman Polak
Wade Redden-Kevin Shattenkirk
Jake Allen, who is the first rookie goalie since Reinhard Divis to start his NHL career at 3-0, earned another start tonight; Brian Elliott is the backup tonight to allow Jaroslav Halak, who is expected to get his first game Wednesday night in Colorado since injuring his groin at Detroit on Feb. 1, to rest up for the game against the Avalanche.
Blues scratches include Halak, Matt D'Agostini and Kris Russell. Jamie Langenbrunner (hip) is out for the season.
- - -
The Sharks' probable lineup:
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Logan Couture-Martin Havlat-Ryane Clowe
Tommy Wingels-Michal Handzus-Tim Kennedy
Matt Pelech-Andrew Desjardins-Adam Burish
Dan Boyle-Brad Stuart
Justin Braun-Andrew Murray
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Brent Burns
Antti Niemi gets the start in goal; Thomas Greiss will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include center Scott Gomez, left wing TJ Galiardi and defenseman Jason Demers. James Sheppard (lower-body) is on injured-reserve.
Note: The Sharks officially announced Tuesday afternoont Desjardins (undisclosed) was coming off injured-reserve. He was inserted into the lineup after missing four games.