Hitchcock continues praise of Berglund line;
Sunday's lineup; Petro returns to ice
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said not to expect much of a game lineup in the first couple preseason games.
Judging by the lineup the team will use for its preseason opener today at Dallas against the Stars (6 p.m. on KMOX 1120-AM), there will be some names people will want to pay attention to.
The Blues and Stars, who will be Central Division foes beginning this season with the new reallignment, will highlight their lineup by playing Magnus Paajarvi, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko together as a unit, as they have been through training camp thus far.
"Good again today, eh," Hitchcock said. "Really good today. I think the thing they do is they play with tempo. They play fast. They play fast defensively, they play fast offensively and they're very effective because of it. That's the best way to describe it. Things are done quickly, they make plays quickly, they get through the neutral zone quickly and then they're a handful for somebody when they play at that type of tempo.
"By far the best line in camp. They've really done a good job. There's been other lines that have had good periods of time. Backes' line was good in Day 1 and 3, but for over three sessions now, Bergy's line has been the most consistent."
The Blues' lineup at Dallas:
Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Porter-Keith Aucoin-Adam Cracknell
Ryan Reaves-Maxim Lapierre-Sergey Andronov
Zach Pochiro-Ryan Tesink-Sebastian Wannstrom
Jay Bouwmeester-Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole-Roman Polak
Joel Edmundson-Jani Hakanpaa
Jake Allen and Jordan Binnington will be the netminders and likely split the game.
"For a first game, it's not a bad team," Hitchcock said. "I think it's a competitive, hard-working team that's gonna not be fun to play against."
* Petro's debut -- After signing his new seven-year, $45.5-million contract Saturday morning, hours after flying in from Toronto, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was on the ice for his first training camp skate with his teammates at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall.
Pietrangelo skated with Group B and took part in the many drills and was paired with prospect Joel Edmundson throughout the session.
"I felt pretty good," Pietrangelo said. "My legs felt pretty good and after the first couple drills, I felt like I hadn't missed anything.
"I felt like I didn't miss a beat. Maybe the coaches have a different opinion. In a situation like that, you try and do as much as you can to prepare for when you do get back, you try to hit it in stride."
Hitchcock was glad to have another minutes-gobbler back at his disposal.
"Yeah for a first day, he looked just normal, which is good because he had a lot going on," Hitchcock said of Pietrangelo. "He didn't arrive until late last night. So for us, it's nice.
"It's kind of like a big pair of slippers that's comfortable, to know that he's in the fold here for a little while."
* Hitch's evaluation -- Hitchcock goes into preseason games with one idea in mind: searching for tendencies in a player's game. He will be looking at certain individuals in the game against Dallas.
"I think you're just looking at evaluation of some individuals and then you're looking at continuity in your team game," Hitchcock said. "You want to see after the first three games the things that you need to work on.
"I think we have an idea after today's practice things that need addressing, but we'll take that into the game and see how that looks. I think we've already kind of figured out some things that probably need to change a little bit here. But we'll get a good evaluation in the next three games on some guys who are on the bubble and how long those guys are going to stay and stuff like that."
* Stars lineup -- According to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, the Blues will likely see a top line of Tyler Seguin, flanked by Jamie Benn and Erik Cole. Seguin was part of the blockbuster trade with the Boston Bruins over the summer that sent Loui Eriksson to the bruins. Also expected to play are young defensemen Brenden Dillon, Jamie Oleksiak and John Klingberg, while Dan Ellis and Cristopher Nilstorp will man the nets.