Friday, November 7, 2014


ST. LOUIS -- Paul Stastny got in his first full practice Friday since being injured Oct. 18 at Arizona against the Coyotes. After playing 15-plus minutes Thursday, it was something Stastny said was needed in a game that took longer to get into any rhythm.

"I think as the game went on, I got more and more comfortable," Stastny said of the game Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. "I haven't been on the ice and played a game in three weeks. That's to be expected. It takes a couple games to kind of get back into habits of things. I think every game from now on is going to get better and better.

"Today was good. It's been tough because of injuries or guys with sickness, we haven't really had any full practices. We shouldn't have had any because the guys have been playing a lot of games and working hard. But a practice like this, sometimes it's good. It's almost like little plays ... stuff like that. No one probably liked today's practice, but I was probably the only one that took something out of it just because of doing more battle drills for me."

Stastny felt he got better as the game progressed.

"Once you get that first game, you take a couple hits, a couple bumps, you're a little tentative at first," Stastny said. "You're seeing how it reacts, but I think once you get into the heat of things, you don't think about it. You might feel something and then you skate down the ice and it's gone. That's what happened as the game went on, especially in the third period once you start battling more. I started having the puck more on my stick."

* Backes on right wing? -- Stastny centered a line with David Backes and Alexander Steen on Friday, a switch from when Stastny started the game Thursday with Steen and Joakim Lindstrom.

Lindstrom played right wing with Patrik Berglund at center and Magnus Paajarvi and Chris Porter alternating rushes at left wing.

"It's an off-day, it's a practice day," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, downplaying the change. "I wanted to look at something different. Even the line that we played last night, the first drill, I forgot to tell them the switch was on, so the first time they ran through the rotation, they were on the lines from last night until I told them to make the change. I'm not sure which way I'm going to go, but I just wanted to look at it today to see if anything looked any different."

If Backes sticks with Stastny, the Blues' center feels like it can be a good move.

"We can win those battles and have more down-low puck possession," said Stastny, who noted he never played with Backes on the same line at the Sochi Olympics but did with Oshie. "... Sometimes it's more about winning those battles down low and kind of creating the 2-on-2, 3-on-2 down low. Backs is really good at creating that space for everyone."

* Special teams improving -- Special teams is an area the Blues were looking to clean up. It's gotten better and geared more toward's Hitchcock's target number of a combined 105 percent.

With two more power play goals Thursday, the Blues are 4-for-9 in the past three games against the Devils (twice) and New York Rangers. They're fourth in the NHL at 25 percent (12-for-48) and the penalty kill is now 20th in the NHL at 78.7 percent (10 goals allowed on 47 chances) after killing off nine in a row going back three games.

"We are playing with really good downhill momentum," Hitchcock said of the power play. "It's been a while coming, but our momentum on the power play, moving it downhill, going downhill and kind of having everyone working in sync has really looked good for us the last two games for me.

"(The penalty kill's) been better in a lot of areas. Last night's goal (Michael Ryder's goal that made it 3-1) wasn't a PK goal on paper, but it was a PK goal. That was disappointing because we had really done a good job against an awesome power play. Disappointing on that one, but for the most part, we're starting to compete at a much higher level and it's helping us."

* Cole goal waved off -- Upon further review, even though the rule states that incidental contact or intentional contact with a goalie in the crease (Rule 69.3) wipes out any goal scored, the Blues felt Ian Cole's goal in the first period should have counted.

Cole stepped into a slap shot that would have given the Blues a 1-0 lead late in the first period, but the goal was immediately waved off after Jori Lehtera made contact with Devils goalie Cory Schneider.

Replays showed that Lehtera was shoved into Schneider by Devils captain and former Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador.

"Yeah, I thought it was a goal," Hitchcock said. "I don't know how a player can avoid that. I'm not sure, but he got hammered into (Schneider) pretty good. I thought it was a goal. I'm kind of looking for clarification on it today actually."

* High marks -- The game between the Blues and Devils on Thursday was the highest-rated game of the season on FOX Sports Midwest. The game also scored the second-best regular season rating ever for a Blues game on FSN.

Overall, the game received a 6.9 household rating and ranked first among men, adults 18-24 and men 18-49, beating out Thursday Night Football on NFL Network.

According to the Blues, television ratings for regular season games are up over six percent compared to this point last season.

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