Monday, September 22, 2014

(9-22-14) Blues-Stars Preseason Gameday Lineup

Fabbri to make NHL debut; Lindstrom to make Blues debut; 
Cole, Shattenkirk get re-acclimated; Hitch on Sunday's game

ST. LOUIS -- Robby Fabbri got a taste of NHL life with fellow Blues prospects at Traverse City, Mich. recently.

And even though it's only a preseason game, nothing will compare to when the Blues' first round pick from this past summer (21st pick) steps onto the ice for the first time in his first NHL game when the Blues take on the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. today at American Airlines Center.

"You get a little but of everything, Fabbri said, referring to excitement and nerves. "You always want to get the first one out of the way. Tonight's my chance and I'm just going to go out there and prove to them that I deserve another day here. Every day, I come to the rink, whether it's a game like tonight or just practice and try to earn more days to stay here."

Fabbri, who has been skating on a line with veterans Steve Ott and Patrik Berglund during training camp, will play with the aforementioned duo tonight and be the featured line when when the Blues, who fell 4-3 in overtime at Columbus Sunday night to open preseason play.

"It's good having guys like that, regulars that have been around the league for many years now," Fabbri said. "It's been a a lot of fun, a lot of hard work. Playing with a couple guys like that, they obviously relax me a little bit.

"You're obviously trying to earn a spot. You've got to prove yourself. I'm going to go out and work as hard as I can and just not give them any choice."

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Blues coach Ken Hitchcock spoke recently of some changes in evaluation regarding some defensive combinations the team had originally planned before training camp started.

Among those getting a look now that perhaps weren't in the cards earlier are Ian Cole and Kevin Shattenkirk, who will be the featured defensive pairing tonight in Dallas.

Cole and Shattenkirk, who were teammates on the U.S. National Team Developmental Program U-18 squad in 2005-06 and 2006-07, have been partnered up in camp while Carl Gunnarsson gets himself back to 100 percent health after off-season hip surgery.

"We've been together ... we took a little break there in college for not long enough if you ask me," Cole joked. "We've been together on the team for a long time, not necessarily as D-partners, but we've been on a lot of teams together. Definitely some familiarity there. He's obviously a great player. It's always good to play with a great player."

Cole, who is being given his best shot at being among the top six defensemen on the Blues squad for 2014-15, is taking the evaluation period during the preseason as seriously as those skaters who are looking to make a name for themselves. He said evaluation also applies for those expected to make the team. 

"It's a measiring stick for sure," Cole said. "I think it's one of those things that you go into Dallas and they have a lot of good players, even though they won't play everybody. They're still going to have a lot of players on the team. Especially if it's going to be me and Shatty paired up against some of their best players. ... We definitely have to be dialed in or else they're going to make you look stupid."

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Joakim Lindstrom will also make his Blues debut tonight against the Stars, and in regards to evaluation of players, Lindstrom, who was signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract in May, has gotten off to an impressive start to camp and is looking to continue that moving into game action.

"When the puck drops tonight, it's game on," Lindstrom said. "You compete as hard as you can and try to play my game. I'm not taking it lightly at all ... complete opposite."

Hitchcock is looking forward to seeing Lindstrom in action.

"He's got quickness in small spaces, he's a very confident player right now," Hitchcock said. "He's going to be an interesting guy. ... Right now, jeez, he's had (a couple) great days at camp. It's not unexpected when you saw him play in the World Championships. He was a real good player for Sweden there and just like he's carried it on, he's had two or three really good years. He's got a lot of confidence and it really shows right now."

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Some comments from Hitchcock following Sunday's preseason loss:

On Jori Lehtera: "He was OK. There's things that you liked. His strength on the puck in competitive areas. There's a lot of things you liked. Obviously he's got a lot of gamesmanship and moxie. This is the first time he's played in a small rink in six or seven years, the first time he's been in this type of environment in a long time, so I would imagine he's going to get better and better. ... A guy playing his first game in North America, he was a handful for the opposition."

On judging from a first-game preseason performance: "A lot. What you judge is, this is a real opportunity for guys that ... these first three games are real opportunities for players to get more opportunities 5-on-5, power play, penalty killing so you can see what they got. You get to see if they have attention to detail that's going to help you down the line. This is a lot of evaluation."

On Philip McRae: "Better and better as the game went on."

On Chris Butler: "He needs to play better; he knows it and we know it. He needs to play better and he can play better. He will play better."

On Nate Prosser: "He was really competitive. Him and (Petteri) Lindbohm were outstanding for me, competitive as hell, really good."

On what else he took away: "Evaluation starts. The biggest evaluations is role players on your hockey club. These first three (games) are real opportunities. The games that get to play (tonight), there's more people playing roles (tonight), getting more ice time than they're going to get. Somebody's got to grab these roles. So you're looking for attention to detail, gamesmanship, conpetitiveness, all the things that you want to see, you're looking for that. We know who the skill guys are. ... We're looking for players that can enhance our hockey club. That's why (Sunday) was a good read."

On Sebastian Wannstrom: "Better and better as the game went on. I don't think he's played an NHL game except exhibition, so it's pretty good."

On Peter Mueller: "He's like the guy that's got to get up to speed. He's got to move his feet, and if he moves his feet, he's got great vision, ge's got great hands. He's just got to learn to move his feet. He's played a different game. He's played a sideways game for (a year in Switzerland). Now he's got to move his feet and plays this game, more north-south than east-west. The NHL's a north-south game."

Bonus comment from Lehtera on playing for Hitchcock and playing the system, understanding the language: "Yeah ... I understand pretty good. Sometimes there's 'Flanker' and 'Tanker' and I don't know what it is. I'll ask the guys. If I don't know what's 'Flanker' and 'Tanker,' I'll ask those things. ... I'm going to know (those words from Hitchcock) in six weeks."  

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The Blues' lineup tonight in Dallas:

Steve Ott-Patrik Berglund-Robby Fabbri

Dmitrij Jaskin-Colin Fraser-Joakim Lindstrom

John McCarthy-Pat Cannone-Ty Rattie

Paul Bissonnette-Jeremy Welsh-Jacob Doty

Ian Cole-Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan Whitney-Jordan Leopold

Santeri Saari-Brett Regner

Brian Elliott will start in goal; Niklas Lundstrom is the backup.

Extra players: Yannick Veilleux and Dmitrij Sergeev

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