By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- When an incident like the one that happened to Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley Monday night, it's a mutual feeling of concern not only for those involved but the entire NHL community.
The Blues, who will face the Stars Tuesday night, understand it will be business as usual when the puck drops, but there was obvious concern for Peverley, who has a history of heart issues and collapsed on the bench Monday night during the Stars' game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"Our thoughts and prayers are for sure with Rich Peverley and his family," Blues captain David Backes said. "This is a game and it kind of puts things in perspective that there's life after this game. There's things that are bigger and more important. Hopefully he's recovering well and stable and can figure out whatever's going on so that maybe he can make it back. His health is the No. 1 concern.
"I'm sure those guys (the Stars) will have heavy hearts and thoughts. He's on our mind too. It's going to be a game when the puck drops and you try to compartmentalize that and go at it. ... It's on your minds and on your thoughts."
Former Stars left wing Brenden Morrow said it's natural for anyone to be shaken up.
"I was just like any other fan," Morrow said. "It's tough to watch and sad. You're just glad that the medical personnel were as fast and swift and thorough as they were to take care of it. I don't know where to begin with what they were thinking in that locker room over there at all."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he's witnessed something similar in junior hockey a couple times but never at the NHL level.
"It's tough. It's very emotional," Hitchcock said. "We're watching it on TV ... the silence was just deafening. When Ralph (Strangis) and Razor (Daryl Reaugh) were doing it and not saying anything to us was probably the best approach, but waiting for information was really hard for all of us. I know some of those trainers. I've worked with those trainers and when I saw Craig (Lowry) running sideways on the bench there, I knew there was big trouble."
The Blues (44-14-6) are fighting for the the top spot in the League and could increase that margin to three points over the Anaheim Ducks with a victory. The Blues also can set a franchise record for consecutive games with a point against divisional opponents tonight. They're 18-0-1 against the Central Division, including 15 straight victories. The 1968-69 team went 15-0-4 (four ties).
The Stars (31-23-10) hold the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference and must regroup to try and fend off a number of teams. The Phoenix Coyotes are only one point behind the Stars, who have a game in hand, heading into action Tuesday.
The Stars recalled forwards Colton Sceviour and Chris Mueller from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to replace Peverley and Alex Chiasson, who was left behind in Dallas Monday night to be observed for anxiety attacks in light of the Peverley incident.
"I had that question earlier, is it best to play or sit out and wait a few games," Stars veteran left wing Ray Whitney said. "I guess time will tell. We'll see tonight, but I think as a group knowing Rich is doing fine, doing well, I think it's best to get going and play right away and get it behind us.
"We're very thankful that he's going to be fine and make a recovery."
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There are lankmarks in the game of hockey. When a player reaches 500 games, 1,000 games, maybe incriments of 100, those are milestones worth noting.
But for Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who will continue to carry on the NHL's current ironman streak when he plays against the Dallas Stars tonight for the 700th consecutive regular season game, it's just another day at the office.
"Every once in a whole it comes up. It's kind of just a number," Bouwmeester said. "I don't think about it or anything like that. It's obviously nice I haven't had to deal with any big injuries or being sick or anything like that."
Backes compares it to the streak of baseball great Cal Ripken Jr., who played in 2,632 consecutive games before he voluntarily ended it after 17 years of being in the Baltimore Orioles' lineup day in and day out.
"Who was the next guy, Henrik Sedin? And he just missed a couple," Backes said of the Vancouver Canucks center, whose streak ended at 679 games. "It's like Cal Ripken Jr. I remember growing up watching him. His streak is ridiculous as well. That's baseball, which is less contact but still, they play 162 games a year almost every night. There's injury in this league, too. There's not a lot of time to recover and fix it. Maybe we better stop talking about it before we get too deep into it and jinx the guy. We'll all knock on wood after this.
"I don't know how you put that in perspective. I think if we could all skate like him and look like we're not barely even trying out there, maybe you can avoid a few contacts, but he's a guy that's in the mix. He plays tons of minutes, he blocks shots, takes some hits, but that's the blue-collar worker he is. He wants to be in the lineup every night, he contributes to wins all the time. For us, he's a great player ... I don't know, 700 games in a row, there's something wrong with him. We'll have to keep that DNA going."
Bouwmeester has only missed 21 games in his career, during the 2003-04 season with the Florida Panthers, which was his second season in the NHL. He blocked a shot and broke his foot.
But that's it.
"I remember it because I broke my foot and I missed a while," Bouwmeester said. "I came back and I got sent down for conditioning. I think that was before ... two lockouts ago. It's been a while.
"It's just a neat thing that's happened. I don't put a lot into it. It's one of those things you kind of knock on wood every time someone (brings it up) and just move on."
Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko will play in his 100th career game tonight.
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Forward Vladimir Sobotka took part in the morning skate Tuesday and skated fluidly on the ice but will not play again tonight. Defenseman Jordan Leopold, out with a high ankle sprain, continues to progress.
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The Blues' probable lineup:
Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Vladimir Tarasenko
Brenden Morrow-Derek Roy-Steve Ott
Magnus Paajarvi-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole-Roman Polak
Ryan Miller will start in goal. Brian Elliott is the backup.
Healthy scratches include Carlo Colaiacovo and Chris Porter. Jordan Leopold (ankle) and Vladimir Sobotka (knee) are out with injuries.
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The Stars' probable lineup:
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole-Cody Eakin-Colton Sceviour
Antoine Roussel-Vernon Fiddler-Chris Mueller
Ray Whitney-Shawn Horcoff-Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski-Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn-Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton-Sergei Gonchar
Tim Thomas will start in goal. Cristopher Nilstorp is the backup.
The healthy scratch is Aaron Rome. Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat), Alex Chiasson (anxiety attack) and Kari Lehtonen (concussion) are out.