Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Lapierre traded to Penguins for Goc; Elliott's 
All-Star journey, wife's idea for selfie; goalie rotation

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues made a trade in a swap of fourth-line centers on Tuesday night.

The Blues traded Maxim Lapierre to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Marcel Goc.

Goc is a 31-year-old center who has 11 years of NHL experience playing for the San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Penguins. The Blues will be his fifth team.

Goc has two goals and four assists in 43 games with the Penguins this season, including an assist in a 5-3 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

In 605 games, the Cawl, Germany native 74 goals and 185 points. 

Lapierre, 29, was in the final season of a two-year, $2.2 million contract with the Blues and was the regular fourth-line center playing mostly between Steve Ott and Ryan Reaves. Lapierre has two goals and nine points this season and like Goc, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Lapierre has 65 goals and 137 points in 579 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks and Blues.

Goc's salary cap hit is $1.2 million this season, while Lapierre's is $1.1 million.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will address the trade Wednesday morning after the team's practice at St. Louis Outlet Mall.

* Elliott's All-Star journey -- Blues goalie Brian Elliott and wife Amanda were basking in the fun and sun on the island of Turks and Caicos last week as the Blues were given a six-day break before reconvening for the post All-Star schedule.

But even before Elliott got that call from Armstrong that he was chosen as a replacement for injured Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We were kind of laughing the night before we got the call," Elliott said of he and his wife. "I wondered if they were going to bring anybody knew in. There's already two goalies that had been replaced already."

Elliott did get the call, and 2,238-plus plane miles later, Elliott was in Columbus for his second-career All-Star Game having to cut the life in the sun short.

"It was a little bit of a whirlwind," Elliott said. "I saw on Twitter that Bobrovsky got hurt and didn't know how bad it was or anything like that. ... I woke up in the morning (Thursday), went on a boat tour, did some snorkeling and everything, had a good morning and afternoon, came home, saw a text because my phone was connected to the wifi. We had all Thursday night after that and enjoyed it, watched the sun go down on the beach and next morning, you make your way to Columbus. Little bit of a tough travel day, but when you get there and be part of something like that ... it's a little bit of a milestone in your career that you can say that you're part of something like that. I could never turn something like that down.

"When you're there (in Turks and Caicos), you're probably thinking, 'Well, it's pretty nice here,' but in 20 years when you're looking back, what are you going to remember more, the day on the beach or being in an All-Star Game? It's something that you can hang that jersey on your wall and be proud of it and just have fun with it."

Reaves commended Elliott for finding his way from Turks and Caicos, to Miami, to St. Louis to get his equipment and off to Columbus -- all in one day.

But ... 

"Mmmmm, yeeeaaahhh, I probably would have showed up before the game," Reaves said with an extended deep breath. "I would have got as much Turks and Caicos in me as I could. I would have strolled in dressed right to the game.

"His numbers are up there with the best in the league, so there's no doubt in my mind he should have been there. With an injury, without an injury, I thought he was definitely an all-star caliber goalie."

Elliott made the best of the situation when he arrived at Nationwide Arena. He wasn't on hand Friday night for the draft, but did take part in the Skills Competition and received tons of notoriety for the selfie he took during the breakaway contest with he and teammate Vladimir Tarasenko. He also used one of the target plates used in the shooting accuracy contest in his glove for Tarasenko to hit.

"My wife came up with the selfie thing," Elliott said. "The target thing, I was going to do a bunch of stuff; take off all my equipment and lay it down so he can deke around it and stuff. Only so much time and so many things you can think of at the time, but hopefully ... I don't know, it would be fun to do that one again actually. It's a tough game to get voted back into.

"Nobody really wants to do that one, so I was like, 'Nobody wants to do that one for sure because I'm the last guy,' so we started planning and were trying to think up different ideas. Got Vladi in on it and he was more than happy to play along. ... I'm getting a lot of imitation poses of kids on the ice with their friends doing the same (selfie) pose. It's kind of funny; it's kind of the Ellen thing, the Oscars. It was front page news in the Toronto Sun back home. That's pretty big for a Toronto kid."

Tarasenko was more than happy to take part.

"Ells was like, 'I have a pretty good idea for you'" Tarasenko said. "... I was a little nervous about doing it right but it was good; it was fun. The target was nice. Puck stayed in the glove. 

"It was really cool. It was really great experience. For me, it was being with the guys like (Tyler) Seguin and especially guys from Chicago who we have a big rival with, guys who were with me like (Jonathan) Toews, (Corey) Crawford, (Brent) Seabrook. Those are pretty good guys. Duncan Keith talk with me also. It's good to find out that they respect you and you respect them. There, you can be like normal guys. Everybody was really friendly."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who could have opted to see Elliott take the time off to rest the knee he sprained in November, was more than happy to see him take part in the festivities.

"One of the things that's impressive about Ells is the respect he has for the game," Hitchcock said. "He did this out of respect for the game and he's a humble guy. That's the part you appreciate. He could have blown it off, just stayed where he was at, but out of respect for the game, I think he did what all of us hoped somebody would do. He was the guy that did it, so that's the impressive part to me. Just out of respect for what getting that call means, it paid off."

As for the game, Elliott allowed six goals on 15 shots in the third period to Team Toews, which won 17-12 against Elliott's Team Foligno. Needless to say, the All-Star Game is not meant to pad goalies' statistics.

"There's no way you're excited about going out there," Elliott joked. "That 20 minutes feels like three games. You're just waiting for the clock to count down. You try not to cover (the puck) to stop the clock, but some of the goals that go in, noone's really going full-out and the defense is definitely not going full-out. They still pull off some crazy moves."

* Goalie rotation -- Hitchcock made mapped out his plan for goalie usage for the next three games. 

The Blues (29-13-4), who resume their schedule Thursday at home to wrap up a seven-game homestand against the Predators, will use Elliott in goal, then Jake Allen will get the game Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes and Elliott will come back and play against the Washington Capitals.

"He's just getting up to speed now," Hitchcock said of Elliott. "I think it's different for an older goalie; I was talking to Ells about that. I don't think it bothers a younger guy as much as it does an older guy. If you're an older guy, you need to get your mind and body up and running again. 

"Brian, because of the injury and because of this six-game break, seems to have started and stopped so keeping him going, I think is important. But we've got so many games, we've got to have both guys going here now."

* Notes -- The Blues were on the ice Tuesday for the second of three practice days before resuming their schedule Thursday, are doing all they can to take advantage of the down time between games. Because once the schedule resumes, the boots will be laced up for what starts as nine games in 15 days.

And the Blues want to take advantage of this time.

"I think a little bit," Elliott said. "We definitely want to take advantage of them. It's as much as you get out of it as you put in. We had a good skate today. You get those tired legs and you've got to work through that and you have time to work through that these couple days. Sometimes you don't, and you go right back into the games. That's the tough part. We have time to work through those tired legs, get the train rolling again and try to keep the steam engine going."

Hitchcock had to call the troops to a group a couple times to talk about tempo and flow on the ice, which all teams are trying to recapture after the lengthy break.

"We're pushing ... we're pushing more for the tempo, to try and get the tempo as high as we can and get as many ... I told the players (Monday) we've got to really take advantage of these days," Hitchcock said. "We're the team that has time on our hands, so we've got to really take advantage of it and really push the tempo. Tempo, execution, try to practice as fast as we can and in as many game-like situations, putting details in. I'm really harping on getting up and down the ice as fast as we can. We'll stay on that these for tomorrow and get ready to play. There's a lot of teams who had one practice yesterday and get to play tonight. We get three days of hammering away on each other."

. . . Hitchcock said that forward Chris Porter had his cast removed from his injured ankle and Porter is, "walking around normal and we'll have more knowledge for you next Monday."

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