Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blues get good read on young players in 3-1 loss at Chicago

Edmundson, Parayko, Fabbri perform well under pressure 
of loaded Blackhawks lineup; Allen solid in goal with 31 saves

CHICAGO -- Those Blues players that faced a very formidable Chicago Blackhawks team Saturday night at United Center were perhaps given one final opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

Players like defensemen 2011 second-round pick Joel Edmundson and 2012 third-round pick Colton Parayko; veteran forwards Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall on professional tryouts, 2014 first- and second-round picks Robby Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev as well as 2011 second-round pick Ty Rattie all were in the lineup against the Blackhawks in the Blues' 3-1 loss.

Edmundson continues to impress, and not only because of scored a goal in the game, but his overall game continues to grow.

Edmundson has been itching to get the opportunity to showcase his skills. He was limited last season with a herniated disk in his back and played in only 30 games with the Chicago Wolves, and three years ago, a high ankle sprain limited the 2011 second-round pick.

"Past three years, I've watched enough hockey," Edmundson said. "... Knock on wood that I stay healthy the rest of the camp and hopefully the whole season.

"... It's nice to get out there and show everyone what I've had. Even the fans, they don't know who I am or anything. It's definitely been a tough time, but I just looked at the the big picture and kept rehabbing and what not. My body feels great right now and I just want to come in and show the fans and the organization what I have. Even the teammates, they don't even know who I am. Make a name for myself, I guess. ... I feel 100 percent. On the ice, my conditioning feels great and I'm looking forward to it."

Edmundson's power play goal, off a nifty pass from Rattie on the power play spotting Edmundson coming through the slot, put the Blues up 1-0 with 1 minute, 5 seconds left in the opening period.

Parayko, who was second in time on ice to Jay Bouwmeester (22 minutes) with 21:06, didn't register a point for the first time in three preseason games but played another solid game with three shots on goal, four hits and two blocked shots. 

"It's something that gives you the opportunity to try to see where you're at obviously playing against some of their top players," Parayko said. "It gives you the opportunity to see how you're doing, what you can improve on and move on forward.

"I'm just trying to establish my game and making sure we're doing the little things right, doing what we can control to be successful."

David Backes played on a line with Fabbri, and the line -- along with former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer -- created some scoring opportunities against many of the Blackhawks' big guns.

"I told Fabbri before the game, I said, 'If you can't get up in this building with this anthem, you're not alive,'" Backes joked. "I look at him about half way (into the national anthem) and smacked him in the shin pads and he gave me a little smirk. He knew he had reached the NHL once you get to experience that, it's pretty special.

"... It's preseason. We learned a lot of lessons, we played a lot of good hockey and we'll get better from it. When we've got our gull group together, it'll be a heck of a series against these guys."

Fabbri, who set Brouwer up in the 3-on-3 overtime session, one of the NHL's allotted games no matter what the score was to experiment with the new format, said it was a special time playing in that atmosphere.

"Going on the ice, he said, 'I bet you've never heard this anthem before," Fabbri said. "Standing there, I got the chills for sure. Great atmosphere and it was a pretty good game.

"I thought it was good not only for me but for everyone getting a lot of their good players and getting used to playing those guys. It was a good opportunity for us."

And then there's Jake Allen, who played the whole game and made 31 saves. It was his first full game and he looked like a player who's ready to battle for No. 1 minutes.

"I felt good out there, I felt comfortable and I feel like I'm getting better every day of training camp," said Allen, who played one period in Columbus in Tuesday's split-squad game. "... I considered this my first game; the one in Columbus, it didn't really count as anything to be honest. I just wanted to get in a rhythm, get a feel for some pucks, get some traffic, get back into the speed of the game."

Coach Ken Hitchcock wanted to see these young kids perform under the pressure against the defending champs.

"This is a better evaluation of what we're looking for," Hitchcock said. "We got some better reads on things. The temperature of the game went up, so that gives you a really good read on where you can play guys, how much you can play. Got to continue playing, keep playing loaded lineups. We'll play good lineups here on Tuesday and Thursday and see where we're at.

"... Today gave you reads on personnel, gave you reads on things you need to work on. This was the best read. The first two or three games, there was no real read on things you need to work on. Today was an excellent read."

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