Blues going back to traditional goal celebrations;
Paajarvi on IR, Morrow day to day; busy November
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It was a common theme in past seasons when a Blues player would score a goal at home: players celebrate together on the ice, then they skate to the bench and give fist bumps to the rest of the group before lining up again.
All NHL teams seemed to adopt the concept in recent seasons, including the Blues.
But the Blues have changed the course, going back to the traditional way of doing it, thanks to some Blues alumni.
Instead, the Blues celebrate on the ice with the teammates, then get go back to their positions for the faceoff. No more skating to the bench -- unless you're coming off for a line change. And it's a concept the current players have adopted well.
"That came from a few gentlemen that used to play here," Blues captain David Backes said. "They just kind of thought that going through the line was a bit of a high school, college-type of play ... act like we've done it before type of score-the-goal, congratulate everyone (on the ice) and let's go line up again. I think it's got a good look to it. It's a change of pace. It shows hey, we've done it before. We're going to hopefully line up and do it again. We'll see how it works.
"I think it's maybe a unique thing maybe where we can change the trend a little bit to score the goal, congratulate each other and let's go line up again."
Blues right wing T.J. Oshie was surprised, actually, that it had been done at the NHL level.
"I don't think I did it in high school," Oshie said. "When I got to college, they were doing it. When I got here, I didn't think it would be happening but it did up here too.
"It shows confidence, it shows that we've been here before. It's kind of a business-like attitude. You score a goal, you want to line up and go get the next one."
So when Alexander Steen scored the eventual game-winner with 59.4 seconds left of a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday, the players on the bench celebrated, and the guys on the ice celebrated on their own.
Been there, done that.
* Busy November -- When the month of November arrives, it will be quite the change for the Blues.
After playing only 10 games -- the fewest in the NHL -- when October closes, the Blues will get at it with a busy month of November. The Blues will open Friday in Florida that starts a span of 15 games in 29 days.
"I think quite frankly, we're going to play better because these starts and stops and long breaks in the season, I think it takes more out of you stopping and starting than it does getting into rhythm," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We haven't gotten into a practice-play rhythm yet, but I think that's going to start here starting tomorrow.
"I think you play best when you're bruise on bruise. Then you don't feel it that much, but I think we've had a lot of stops and go's to start. I think there's us and the Bruins that have played 10 games (Boston played their 11th game Wednesday). Now we get to kind of play a schedule with the rest of the league now."
Blues players would also play games instead of the long layoffs. It certainly affected their play after a week off between games at Winnipeg and a home game against Vancouver in which the Blues struggled at the outset, falling behind 2-0 to the Canucks before rallying and losing 3-2 in overtime.
"I absolutely look forward to it," Backes said. "This week off here and there, four days off kind of takes you out of that rhythm. When we've really got it going in the right direction, all of the sudden it's time for a break. It kills your momentum."
The next stretch of games is also evaluation time for Hitchcock.
"Now we're into games 11-20, which you get a really good read on where everybody's at," Hitchcock said. "Starting Friday, we're on Game 11 and we're going to get a really good read on how intense the season's going to be."
* Tougher Jets -- The Blues' 3-2 win over Winnipeg Tuesday was in stark contrast to their game against the Jets on Oct. 18.
In that game, the Blues had a 3-1 lead in the third period, had the game in complete control before succumbing late, allowing two goals before losing in a shootout.
On Tuesday, the Jets were more physical and really intense.
"They played fast and a team that, I don't want to say they take chances, but they're not scared to step up and make you make a play before you want to," Backes said. "We weren't quite as sharp to make those plays before we wanted to, and the result was a lot of turnovers where it was not clean, not getting the puck deep and being able to forecheck. The result was a lot of skating, some frustration, some ebbs and flows to the game wasn't typical the way we'd like to dictate it, and that's a credit to them.
"We've got to get back to our game and make sure that we can keep a little bit more there and not be running and gunning with a team of that caliber of forwards."
* More injuries -- The Blues placed left wing Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) on injured reserve after being injured Saturday at Nashville.
Hitchcock initially listed Paajarvi, who's played four games, as day to day.
Also, veteran left wing Brenden Morrow took a cross check early in the third period and did not return to the game against the Jets Tuesday.
Morrow was not on the ice Wednesday and is also listed as day to day with an upper body injury. Should Morrow not be able to travel on the upcoming three-game trip that will take the Blues to Florida, Tampa Bay and Montreal, a call-up from Chicago of the American Hockey League is likely.
"(Morrow) got cross-checked there in the third period. He's day to day until we get you an evaluation ... upper body, day to day," said Hitchcock, who was initially hopeful Paajarvi could travel. "We'll let you know on him and 'Magnum P.I.' We'll let you know here tomorrow morning. Both guys are day to day and hopefully both guys can make the trip."