By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues are part of the 30-team NHL and that will be a proven fact when the team plays an actual hockey game tonight.
The other 29 teams have played games since the Blues last played, which was a week ago today in Winnipeg, while the Blues got a quirky deal in their schedule with a rare week off in the first month of the season.
They'll play their eighth game today at 7 p.m. when they host the Vancouver Canucks (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), who are on the other end of the spectrum and will play in their NHL-leading 13th game, second in as many days after winning 3-2 in a shootout at New Jersey Thursday night and the last of a seven-game trip (they're 4-1-1).
After picking up a point -- despite squandering one against the Jets -- in a 4-3 shootout last week in Winnipeg, the Blues were at 11 points, which was good for third in the Western Conference at the time. But in the time off, they've slipped to 10th despite a 5-1-1 record.
Instead of focusing on what they can't control, the Blues, after a four-day bonding trip to Charleston, S.C., got back at it Thursday at practice and went full-bore Friday morning in preparation for back-to-back games of their own (which includes Saturday at Nashville).
"We've just got to assume that things aren't going to be clean until we get up to speed with teams that have played a lot of hockey," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think this is 13 or 14 for Vancouver, so they're going to have game-like conditioning going on and we've just got to get ready for it.
"Their personnel's the same. They've got really good players. They've got a lot of top-end guys that can carry a lot of minutes. They don't mind playing more minutes."
The Canucks (7-4-1), are at the opposite end of the spectrum with this being their 13th game.
Both David Booth (lower body) and Dale Weise (lower body) were injured Thursday and are not expected to play tonight. The Canucks, who did not skate a full team Friday morning, recalled forwards Pascal Pelletier and Darren Archibald from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. Both are expected to play tonight.
The Canucks held an optional, with limited skaters on the ice including Alexandre Burrows, who hasn't played since the season-opener after suffering a foot injury.
Hitchcock felt that Burrows would play tonight but that's not the case, according to the Vancouver Sun.
"I'm sure they'll probably get Burrows back, so we'll see," Hitchcock said. "I don't see playing back-to-back ... if you get into a city at three or four or five in the morning, that's a whole different thing, but when you get in at 1 o'clock and you're five minutes from the rink, it's not a big deal.
"We played one of our best games in Winnipeg and we had customs and the whole thing there. We were there at 1:30 in the morning. ... I don't see playing back-to-back being a big deal at all. If you have significant travel and time zone travel, then it's a different story. But when you're picking up an hour and doing those type of things, I don't see it as a big deal."
Also, defenseman Andrew Alberts, who only played 1:49 Thursday night, was also on the ice along with backup goalie Eddie Lack, who will spell Roberto Luongo tonight, also according to the Vancouver Sun.
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The Blues' probable lineup:
Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Magnus Paajarvi-Derek Roy-Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Brenden Morrow-Vladimir Sobotka-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Jordan Leopold-Roman Polak
Jaroslav Halak will start in goal tonight; Brian Elliott is the backup.
Healthy scratches include Adam Cracknell and Ian Cole. Maxim Lapierre won't get to face his former team. He is serving the third game of a five-game suspension stemming from the Oct. 15 game vs. San Jose.
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The Canucks' projected lineup:
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler
Chris Higgins-Mike Santorelli-Zack Kassian
Brad Richardson-Jeremy Welsh-Tom Sestito
Pascal Pelletier-Darren Archibald
Dan Hamhuis-Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler-Jason Garrison
Ryan Stanton-Christopher Tanev
Eddie Lack makes his third start of the season; Roberto Luongo will be the backup.
The healthy scratch includes Yannick Weber. Depending on Burrows' status, the Canucks are also without injured players Jordan Schroeder (ankle), Jannik Hansen (upper body), David Booth (lower body) and Dale Weise (lower body).