Tuesday, December 15, 2009

(Dec. 15) Gameday news and notes

ST. LOUIS -- As the Blues prepare to play another hockey game Tuesday night, they had a chance to reflect on life’s changing moments.

Things were put into perspective when the players all visited area local children's hospitals as part of giving something back to the community.

Forget the Blues' home troubles on the ice. What they saw on Monday really puts what they do into perspective.

"I saw a child who was doing rehabilitation in his walker," goalie Chris Mason said. "For him to walk 10 steps, you could see the wincing and how hard it was for him just to walk to his wheelchair. We get to come here and play a game that we have dreamed of our whole lives. I realize how fortunate that I am to do this. You see those kids, and for them to be in the situation that some of them are in and they manage to smile and have fun, there's no excuse for us not to put it all out there when we're on the ice."

After a couple hard and rigorous practices Saturday and Sunday, Blues coach Andy Murray appreciates more than anything what the players did off the ice Monday.

"Hockey had nothing to do with yesterday," Murray said before Tuesday's game. "I thanked them on the ice at the end of practice for what they did. We've got some things that we're not happy about and there are some issues, but our guys went to the children's hospitals. To me, if that doesn't prioritize what life is all about and the fact that we're playing a game ... I told our guys that we're playing a game tonight. 'What you guys did (Monday) is special.' We have no issues compared to what those people are going through and those families and so on. That's what yesterday was about, and maybe the most important thing this year."

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* Mason to play against Calgary -- Chris Mason will get the nod in goal, his first action since a 4-1 loss to Colorado on Dec. 7.

Mason, who comes into the game with an 8-9-4 record but his goals-against (2.44) and save percentage (.918) are among the league's best.

Needless to say, Mason is ready and refreshed and looking forward to the challenge.

"Obviously for myself, sitting out a couple games, you get hungry again and are eager to play again," Mason said after Tuesday's morning skate. "For the team, the last couple of days hasn't been too enjoyable. We should be ready to go tonight because there comes a point where enough is enough. You've got to start winning. Otherwise, you're going to see yourself on the wrong end of the standings again.

"I feel physically refreshed and ready to go. (Mentally), it's all part of it."

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* Defending their turf -- Fans are getting on them, the pressure seems to mount with every passing day -- and loss.

But the way the Blues look at their 13-12-5 overall record and 4-10-2 Scottrade Center mark, they know there's nobody to blame but the ones in the mirror.

"It's tough, but we deserve everything we've got," Mason said. "We've done it to ourselves. At some point, it's good to stay positive but at the same time, you have to be realistic and it keeps happening time and time again. It's inexcusable. I think we really have to take it upon ourselves to get out of this. You can't keep making excuses for the play at home.

"I don't really know why because last year, this was a tough building to come in and we're not making it tough on teams right now."

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* Berglund a healthy scratch -- Blues center Patrik Berglund, who has three goals and three assists in 26 games this season, will be a healthy scratch against the Flames, being replaced by Cam Janssen in the lineup.

"Some of our veterans haven't played well enough, so we're in a battle for points. Young guys like that, you can't have the patience you'd maybe like to have at times," Blues coach Andy Murray explained Tuesday morning. "... He's learning on the job; he would struggle this year a little bit, and I don't think it's unexpected. All of our young guys would be a little bit off (to a slow start) at the start of this year. I don't think that's unexpected, but what is unexpected is the production of our veteran players and that impacts those young guys like that because you're battling for points every night and these guys have a proven track record. You naturally give them the benefit of the doubt.

"Patrik needs to play better. He knows that. He knows what he needs to do. He's a bright, perceptive kid that gets it. He's a pleasure to coach. ... He's going to be a good player."

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* Flames-Blues meet again -- The two teams met here on Nov. 5, with the Flames taking a 2-1 overtime decision on Dion Phaneuf's game-winner.

Calgary comes in 1-2-1 in its last four and in a foul mood after a 3-2 loss in Colorado Sunday.

"We outchanced them in that game, outshot them pretty bad in that game," Murray recalled. "They beat us in overtime. Their goalie (Miikka Kiprusoff, who stopped 30 shots) is OK."

The Blues, as they'd like to forget, are coming off that nasty loss Friday to Edmonton in which they squandered away a 3-0 lead and lost 5-3.

"You've got two ugly teams," Murray said. "They weren't very happy with their last game, last two games I understand which I watched both. We're not very happy with our last game, so two ugly teams. ... We always seem to get the Flames when they're ugly. That's most nights."

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