Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kids continue to shine in 4-1 victory at Dallas

Parayko, Edmundson, Fabbri making cases to stick with 
Blues; PTO's Upshall, Gomez also making case; Elliott sharp in goal

DALLAS -- The Blues' young guns continue to play like they want to play at the NHL level.

No offense to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, were both defensemen Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko played to end last season, but if the towering defensemen had their way, they will be wearing Bluenotes one week from Thursday.

Both players continued to play at a high level in the second-to-last preseason game, and veteran Scottie Upshall, in camp on a professional tryout, scored his first goal in the Blues' 4-1 victory against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Forward Troy Brouwer (36) jumps in front of Stars goalie Antti Niemi in
action Tuesday at Dallas. Brouwer scored in the Blues' 4-1 victory.

The Blues (2-2) brought a heavy NHL-like lineup but also brought both Edmundson and Parayko, Upshall and veteran Scott Gomez, also in camp on a professional tryout; defenseman Andre Benoit, and forward Robby Fabbri to continue getting evaluations on all the players they're looking extensively at.

Time is running short, roster spots are going to get thinner and the Blues have to make decisions. The regular season begins Oct. 8 against the Edmonton Oilers.

Gomez had an assist, his first in three games, Edmundson and Parayko each had an assist (Parayko is tied with Kevin Shattenkirk for most assists in the preseason with four) and Fabbri had his second assist in three games.

But the Blues would not have it any other way than to have these players make the decisions tough on them. Its the mark of a good hockey team that needs to make the difficult choices.

"I thought some of our defensemen had real good games; I thought the kids got better and better as it went on," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We were opportunistic with the offense we got, the physical play of Edmundson dialed up about a six-minute stretch there in the second period, we got into the game and played well.

"They're going to make it hard on us, which is exactly what you want. That's something that's going to turn out to be, whether it's short or long term going to be a good investment for us. To me, whatever happens, happens. But they've made a great account of themselves and we'll see. It's an easy evaluation now because (Carl) Gunnarsson (groin injury) or (Robert) Bortuzzo have not played so its been easy. If and when they get back in the lineup, then it'll be a different gauge. We'll be able to compare their game from what we've seen from the kids.

"Fabbri's just been a good player all camp. That's not surprising. He's running on fumes right now with everything he did at Traverse City. He's played the most hockey of anybody on the team, so he's going to need a little bit of a rest here moving forward."

Newcomer Troy Brouwer, who scored in the 3-on-3 overtime Saturday at Chicago, got his first goal Tuesday. He said now that rosters are dwindling down, it's becoming more and more comfortable for the player the Blues acquired from the Washington Capitals for T.J. Oshie.

"Now that we're down a little bit more in players, it's easier to just talk with the guys and be on the ice," Brouwer said. "Today was the first day I was on the ice with (Jaden) Schwartz and it's Day 12 of camp. Now that it's a tighter group, it'll be easier to get acclimated as well. You can see what guys are like in practice, how they approach it, how their skill is and how the team's going to take shape. For me, it's an exciting time because I think we have an unbelievable team here. It's getting more and more fun as we approach the opening night date."

Shattenkirk, who's played a good portion with Edmundson, noticed the play of both Edmundson and Parayko. 

"They're playing confident right now, which is good" Shattenkirk said. "I think they're all hungry right now for a spot. It's just nice to see them feeling comfortable out there. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo moves in on Stars center Radek Faksa
during the Blues' 4-1 victory against the Stars Tuesday in Dallas.

"It just doesn't seem like they're playing scared, which is good. You want to be yourself and play the game that's yours."

But with all the good that happened in Tuesday's game, when asked what impressed him most, Hitchcock didn't hesitate with his response.

"The goalie; Elliott was good," Hitchcock said of Brian Elliott, who stopped 25 shots and gave up two goals in 140 minutes. "He gave us a chance. When they got a push, he stood tall."

Elliott is impressed with the young defensemen in front of him.

"They're playing very poised, making decisions and kind of going with it right or wrong," he said. "They're making those decisions and executing them, and you don't see that all the time.

"... I was trying to see through screens tonight. They have some big bodies up front. I lost some pucks, but they managed to hit me and I was able to cover up some rebounds. That's the stuff you want to feel like going into the season."

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