Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blues top Blackhawks 4-1 in exhibition game

Halak sharp; top line of Perron, Backes, Boyes in regular season form

ST. LOUIS -- There certainly are a couple looming decisions for the Blues as the preseason comes to a conclusion as far as roster spots are concerned. However, there's one constant that will most certainly carry over to the regular season.

If this were basketball, David Perron, David Backes and Brad Boyes playing on the top line when the Blues begin the regular season is a slam dunk. All three seem to have their regular season game faces on and Thursday night's exhibition game against Chicago was no exception.

Perron got the Blues on the board, T.J. Oshie scored one of those Jumbotron highlight reel goals that will be shown throughout the season and Jaroslav Halak turned away 30 shots in his first action in nine days as the Blues downed the Blackhawks 4-1 Thursday night at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (4-2) and their seasoned vets seem to have their pecking order straightened out as far as the roster is concerned, aside from a few spots that will be decided over the next couple days ahead of the season-opener one week from Saturday here against the Philadelphia Flyers.

It's safe to say the Perron-Backes-Boyes line is locked in and etched in stone.

"They've been real consistent," Blues coach Davis Payne said of his top line. "You can tell not only are they thinking together but they're working together. The communication going on on the bench, the communication in practice, after a shift discussing what happened (and) how to make adjustments. I think they're doing a great job in reading of each other.

"You've got a couple different elements on that unit. You've got a couple puck-handlers, you've got some size, you got some speed and quite frankly, all three guys are playing a reliable game. We like that group right now."

Oshie's game-winning goal came after Alex Steen pinpointed a pass through the zone and sent Oshie in along on the Hawks' Marty Turco, who committed while sprawling to the ice but was beaten as Oshie waited the play out and tucked the puck inside the right post with 2:59 left in the second.

"The play was pretty much all Steener," Oshie said. "We've been talking all training camp about driving to the net and that's pretty much how my role started with that play. Steener dragged three guys to him and he made a nice pass. I was fortunate enough for Turco to be a little aggressive and took advantage of it."

Matt D'Agostini scored in the third period, a goal set up by a crushing check from defenseman Ian Cole in the Hawks' zone.

"I started out in my end. The guy turned it up and he was coming straight at me," Cole said. "Coach (Brad) Shaw talked to me early in the game about being able to make a play, get past him and make a rush. That's what I did."

Steen also added an empty-netter to aid in the victory for Halak, who was much sharper and appeared much more relaxed and crisp.

"I felt so much better than the first game," Halak said. "I got more shots early in the game. ... Even though they had less shots in the second and third, I was still in the game."

Halak aided his cause when he kicked out Jeremy Morin's penalty shot with 4:05 remaining. The Blues' No. 1 netminder was more assertive, challenged shots and is getting on par with his timing.

"You don't want to give up a goal on a penalty shot," Halak said. "I was just trying to not give up a goal.

"If you ask any goalie in the NHL, he wants to face more shots. Not every game it happens. ... My timing's coming back. Hopefully in a week or so, I'll be ready to go."

* NOTES -- Forward Andy McDonald (hip-flexor) and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (hip-flexor) did not play. Vladimir Sobotka (shoulder) also continues to rehab from off-season surgery. ... The Blues reduced their roster to 28 when they optioned goalie Ben Bishop to Peoria. ... Defenseman Barret Jackman led a group of six players at plus-2 or better by finishing at plus-3 with 15:44 ice time.

(9-30-10) Blackhawks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- It's getting down to the final days for those that are fighting for spots on the Blues' roster, and the moments are getting anxious for some.

Forward Nick Drazenovic is no exception.

Drazenovic, 23, who was drafted by the Blues in the 6th round (171st overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, has had a string of bad luck trying to crack the big boys' roster. But he's here now and among the final cuts and is hoping for the best.

"My first year, I had a broken rib, the second year I had mono," Drazenovic said Thursday morning before the Blues faced the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center. "Last year was my first year I got a good shot at it, but there wasn't many spots. I feel like I had a good year in Peoria. Hopefully this camp, it'll work out."

Drazenovic, who had 19 goals and 39 points in 58 games with the Rivermen last season, was supposed to be a late-season call-up last year but was struck with bad luck again, when he suffered a broken wrist.

All is well now, and Drazenovic will get another shot tonight playing with Alex Steen and Patrik Berglund.

"Everyone's playing for a spot, so I just got to go out there and play like I can," Drazenovic said. "I'm with Bergy and Steener tonight, and I just have to show I can play at their pace, play at their level and be responsible out there; let Payner trust me to know I'm not a liability out there.

"After the first cuts there, I was like, 'Okay, I've just got to not think about it and just play hockey,'" Drazenovic said. "Then there were cuts after the Colorado game ... I just wanted to go play in Colorado and I can't control what happens after that. I seemed to have slid through and I get another opportunity tonight."

Blues coach Davis Payne coached Drazenovic in Peoria and knows a thing or two about the 6-foot-1, 200-pound right winger.

"He's an offensive guy who's gained an understanding on the other side of the puck, which makes reliability to go up and all of the sudden to play more minutes," Payne said. "His skating's come along, he's better in traffic, he's better going to the net; still would like to see him shoot some more pucks, but he's going to get a good opportunity here tonight with Bergy and Steener. We want to find out where he's at and just how close he really is."

Whether Drazenovic makes the final cut is still to be determined, but he's doing his best to keep it all in stride.

"It's funny because my family's calling and wondering how camp's going," Drazenovic said. "I'm trying to stay even-keel about it and not play too much about it to them. I'm telling them it's okay and everything's fine, but inside you're anxious and a little bit nervous playing with guys I've watched for years."

- - -

Another guy vying for a spot is Ian Cole, who has had a very nice camp thus far and judging by his minutes on the ice, the Blues feel so as well.

But Cole, who will be playing in his fourth preseason game tonight, does not shy away from a heavy workload. He's averaged over 20 minutes each game, including a game-best 26:08 against the Minnesota Wild.

"I recover quick enough to get back out there without being too long on the bench," Cole said. "I can handle playing those minutes. Heck, in college (at Notre Dame), I was playing upwards of 32-33 minutes. So this is nothing (Cole was joking of course). This is a walk in the park.

"I've never complained about too much ice time. ... You never complain about too much ice time. Up here, you have to go all-out all the time."

- - -

The Blues (3-2) will host the Blackhawks (1-3) and will use a predominantly regular lineup tonight. The forward lines look like this:

David Perron-David Backes-Brad Boyes

Alex Steen-Patrik Berglund-Nick Drazenovic

T.J. Oshie-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Cam Janssen-Matt D'Agostini-Brad Winchester

Andy McDonald (mild hip-flexor strain) skated this morning but will not play.

D-pairings include:

Barret Jackman-Erik Johnson

Eric Brewer-Roman Polak

Nikita Nikitin-Ian Cole

Carlo Colaiacovo (hip-flexor) was not on the ice this morning and should be less than a week away from skating.

Jaroslav Halak will make his second appearance in goal after starting the preseason opener. Ty Conklin to be the backup.

Other scratches include Chris Porter, Tyson Strachan, Dave Scatchard, Alex Pietrangelo and Nathan Oystrick.

The Blues optioned goalie Ben Bishop to Peoria Thursday afternoon, trimming the roster down to 28 players.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blues need Boyes to return to form

Winger fell to 14 goals a season ago
after netting 76 previous two years

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It's no secret that the Blues' climb in the standings hinges on its offense. The defense and goaltending were solid all of last season, yet it wasn't enough to get the team back to the playoffs for the second straight season.

The Blues scored 217 goals last season, which was good for 17th in the league. That amounted to 2.66 goals per game.

Of course, the Blues will need contributions from everyone to increase that total, but the guy that stands out above them all is none other than Brad Boyes.

Boyes has seen his goal production dip from 43 goals to in 2007-08 to 33 in 2008-09 to a mere 14 last season.

Why the drastic fall? There are many reasons. At the top is the power play production that saw Boyes go from 11 power play goals during his 43-goal campaign to only two a season ago. He tallied 16 during his 33-goal campaign.

"One thing that definitely helps out is getting back to the power play the way it was a couple years ago," Boyes said. "... That will definitely help out."

Can Boyes be that 40- or even 30-goal scorer again? The possibility exists. Reaching 30 goals is certainly attainable, and if the Blues can get that, it will certainly bode well for this season.

Boyes is the Blues' sniper. He is their go-to guy.

"He's got a lot of skill," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "He's just got to get himself and his linemates in position to be effective and to use those skills. Putting Brad in those situations is a no-brainer for us. (But) they don't give you anything cheap in this league. You've got to earn it."

Boyes' previous success was no fluke. His accuracy was unparalleled at times. His 43-goal season saw him take 207 shots, converting an unprecedented 20.8 percent of those shots. That number nose-dived to 7.1 percent a season ago after taking 197 shots.

"Last year, he had some bad bounces on him," teammate David Perron said of Boyes. "We feel he's a guy that can get back to the goals he scored the previous years. For him, it's pretty easy. You give him the puck in good areas ... you can see in the practices when you give him the puck in the right areas, he scores almost every time."

Which won't prevent Boyes from shooting the puck once again this season. You have to shoot to score, right?

"Yeah, just shooting pucks. Getting pucks on net, getting into the right areas," Boyes said. "That's going to be a big help.

"The numbers obviously, that's production. I'm a guy that needs to produce, to get in on the score sheet and goals when we need them. ... There is that (theory) of play your game and stuff will come, but I definitely want to put up numbers. That's why I'm here."

The fire is especially hot for Boyes, a Mississauga, Ontario native who sat by and watched the postseason last season as the Blues missed out by five points.

Boyes understands a couple goals here and there would have made a big difference. That's why a return of Boyes on the score sheet is extremely vital.

"He's got to play to his strengths, (but) he's also got to play a sound team game," Payne said of Boyes. "We don't need to sacrifice a heck of a lot, or cheat to certain areas of the ice, in order to gain some offensive opportunities."

Instead of second-guessing and thinking about the past, Boyes, 28, would like to think things will improve in 2010-11.

Sure, getting those gaudy numbers is nice, but competing for the big prize is what drives players to succeed.

"I've played four playoff games in my career," Boyes said. "To be a big contributing factor and us getting back into the playoffs and pushing from there, that's the best part of the year is playing in the playoffs. I want to get to them and do well in them. That's what I'm looking to do this year."


McDonald sits with hip-flexor injury; Blues to face
Hawks in two of final three preseason games

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Add forward Andy McDonald to the list of the hip-flexor bug.

Days after Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo suffered a hip-flexor injury Friday, McDonald also was hit by the same type of injury.

McDonald did not practice Wednesday with what he called a mild hip-flexor strain suffered during practice on Sunday.

The Blues did not practice Monday and McDonald was on the ice Tuesday when the team skated full bore for two-plus hours in an intense practice. The injury "flared up" according to McDonald. He said everything felt good before practice Tuesday.

McDonald, 33, said the injury is nothing serious and would test it out Thursday morning prior to the Blues' exhibition game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's more precautionary at this point," McDonald said. "Rest it today, see how it is tomorrow. It's not anything serious. ... I'm not too worried about it."

With McDonald out, the Blues had 26 skaters on the ice so the onus was on Alex Steen to double-shift during drills.

Here were some line combinations at practice Wednesday at St. Louis Mills:

Alex Steen-David Backes-David Perron

Steen-Patrik Berglund-Nicholas Drazenovic

T.J. Oshie-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Chris Porter-Dave Scatchard-Brad Boyes

Brad Winchester-Matt D'Agostini-Cam Janssen

D-pairings included:

Barret Jackman-Erik Johnson

Eric Brewer-Roman Polak

Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo

Nikita Nikitin/Nathan Oystrick-Tyson Strachan

* Nikitin making strong push -- Russian defenseman Nikita Nikitin, the Blues' fifth round draft choice (136th overall) in 2004, has been considered the longshot of a group fighting for two spots open on the defensive side.

But with the uncertainly of Colaiacovo's injury, which Payne says is day-to-day, and nobody really running away with the battle, the Omsk, Russia native is among the final 29 players and pushing it until the very end.

Nikitin has a goal and an assist in two preseason games.

"We think he's done a great job," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "He's competing. We felt that he's gained some of the conditioning that perhaps he didn't have stepping into camp here. We feel positionally, decision-making with the puck and decision-making defensively have been very impressive for a guy who's come over to North America."

* Stanley Cup champs to close out Blues' preseason schedule -- The Blues have three preseason games remaining, and two of them are against the defending Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks.

The Hawks (1-3) will play here today at 7 p.m. before hosting the Blues (3-2) Sunday at 5 p.m. at United Center. The Blues will also play host to Dallas Saturday at 7 p.m.

Perron maturing into complete player

Blues winger working hard for one goal:
winning Stanley Cup for St. Louis

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the Blues first drafted David Perron, there was evidence that they had a special talent. As a matter of fact, the Blues felt so good about the gifts the Sherbrooke, Quebec native possessed, he would need no seasoning at the junior or minor league levels.

Perron, now a seasoned veteran at the ripe old age of 22 entering his fourth season since being drafted in the first round (26th overall) in 2007, was the new wave of hockey players trying to mesh with an old-school coach (Andy Murray). The two would clash on occasion, differing in opinions on a bevy of subjects. There was a label placed on Perron that he was a gifted offensive player but one lacking an understanding in becoming a hockey player on both ends of the ice.

Perron was more dedicated and more determined than ever to prove his critics wrong.

Looking back, Perron understands where Murray came from. He even goes out of his way to voice his opinion that Murray in fact made a difference in his development. Now, Perron can fully grasp the idea for his offensive numbers to grow, there comes a time where one has to embrace a system in order to better themselves.

Playing for Davis Payne has allowed Perron to grow, and his desire to play a two-way game can only be beneficial moving forward.

Perron's offensive numbers (20 goals and 47 points a season ago) continue to climb. He went from 13 goals and 27 points his rookie season, to 15 goals and 50 points in 2008-09. And if Perron is to become one of the upper echelon players not only on the Blues but in the league as well, playing off the puck and being able to play efficiently in one's own end will help increase those numbers.

"I always thought I was pretty good in the 1 on 1 defensive battles," Perron said Tuesday. "Sometimes I think it was more in terms of positioning in the D-zone and the neutral zone. I got more comfortable with Andy in that role. Now that Payner is here, there are some different details to it, but I really think it's something I improved on.

"I want to be out there the last minute. I want to be out there for both sides of it -- to get a goal and to prevent one. If I keep working, hopefully I get the opportunity in both situations."

Payne is a stickler for getting his players to play off the puck, be positionally sound and be battle-tested in the defensive zone. He feels Perron's game is suited for that style and likes the determination and dedication a young player such as Perron has put into becoming the complete player.

"I think he's putting some real good attention into it," Payne said of Perron. "I think David is a guy who's driven and wants to be counted on as one of those next-level players. That's the work that has to go into it in order for him to get there.

"He's a guy that is a real good offensive player who's got those kind of instincts. It takes just a simple commitment for a guy to understand the defensive side of the game because in looking at a guy who's trying to attack and he's trying to defend, he knows what he's trying to do. It's one of those things where a commitment (and) a simple understanding (and) all of the sudden you've got a very skilled two-way hockey player and that's what we need all our guys to be."

Perron, who didn't take to liking hockey and becoming a rink rat until he was 14, can be found on the ice, whether it be here in St. Louis or his home in Quebec. There is a real sense of commitment there for one simple goal: winning a Stanley Cup.

Perron realizes numbers are important, but winning is the ultimate satisfaction. This is what drives his every move on the ice.

"Winning the Cup is what matters most for all of us," Perron said. "As long as I keep improving, that's my goal for every season I play. Obviously the bigger steps you take, the better. As a player, you put so much pressure on yourself to be good. I think that's how we'll find a way to win a championship. Everybody wants to get better and everybody's pushing the other guys to be on the first line, to be on the second line or power play time, penalty kill time. I had more of that last year and I want to keep improving in those areas."

Perron's teammates can see the determined effort, particularly those that are directly involved with him on the ice.

"It's easy to see just how skilled Perry is," forward Brad Boyes said recently. "It's easy for a kid coming into the league to be wide-eyed and not really grasping what's important for growth and development.

"Perry's had some challenges but we all have. You can see how much he's matured on and off the ice and he's becoming a better player for it. His goal is the same as all of ours, and that's winning. So he's willing to put in whatever work's necessary to do that. He's a terrific team player."

Perron, who lists Alexei Kovalev as his hockey hero, will typically be the first one on the ice and last one off. His deft touch, precise shots and highlight-reel moves (ask Mark Streit of the New York Islanders) come from hours of repetition day after day.

Perron understands the Blues need players like him to increase the offensive production in order for the team to succeed. That's why Perron spends countless hours mastering his skills. He craves the ice and wants to be on it as often as possible, whether it be at the beginning, middle and most importantly, the end of games.

"Obviously (Payne) wants to see me producing offensively," Perron said. "But sometimes that means you have to anticipate the play real well on both sides of the ice.

"You can see how much more ice time guys get when they play both sides of the ice. ... As a player, you always put pressure on yourself to be a contributor. My role, I want it to become bigger and bigger and that's my mindset coming into this year. I want to have some more responsibilities obviously."

Is a 30-goal season within reach for Perron? Perhaps. Improving in all areas of the game is something an 18-year-old would not focus on. But this 22-year-old has only that kind of mindset.

"I try to stay away from numbers. I want to improve," Perron said. "If it means more goals, great. If it means more points, great. If it means more hits, more blocked shots (and) stuff like that ... I think for me, I try to improve in all areas. That's something I want to keep doing.

"You want to be a guy that's counted on offensively and also defensively. I think I made some great steps in that direction in the last three years. I think it's an area I want to make an even greater (step)."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Blues back at work with tough practice;
Colaiacovo, Sobotka still nursing injuries

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Maybe a day off was not such a good idea for the Blues. Or was it?

After three days of games over the weekend, Blues coach Davis Payne gave his players a day off Monday to get refreshed and reenergized for the week that lies ahead.

Well, when Tuesday morning rolled around, the Blues hit the ice at St. Louis Mills at 10:30 a.m. By the time all was said and done, roughly two hours later, it was one of the more intense practices in recent memory -- most certainly in Payne's short era here. It even prompted one visiting reporter to say they've never seen anything like it before.

But instead of pouting how much they exerted themselves on the ice, the Blues were peppy and upbeat in the locker room. Most talked about the need to get locked into regular season mode, which is a mere 10 days away.

"It was a grind today. It was good, though," forward Brad Boyes said. "There was definitely a point to it with the way the drills were scheduled, especially at the end.

"I think it was pretty obvious when we did a little skate there at the end, we tired each other out and then went to a battle drill to finish it off. The mindset was keep going, keep going, never stop. (Payne's) drilling it in, and that's good."

* Colaiacovo, Sobotka updates -- Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who suffered a hip-flexor injury during Friday's 5-0 exhibition win over Minnesota, was not on the ice Tuesday and according to Payne, is at least a week away from joining the Blues.

That means that the competition for the last two spots on the defensive unit could turn into competition for three positions should Colaiacovo miss more time.

Those prospects bode well for the five players battling it out in camp, including Alex Pietrangelo, Ian Cole, Nikita Nikitin, Tyson Strachan and even Nathan Oystrick.

"It's making it very tough," Payne said of the looming decisions on D. "I think you look at the games we've (played over) the weekend, Ian Cole's strong game (against the Wild Friday). I thought Petro's game in Colorado (Sunday) was the better of the games he's played. Nikitin (is) very, very strong and very poised in all the situations both offensively and defensively. Then you've got a guy in Nathan Oystrick and Strachan who've got some experience and understand the way this game's played at this level. I think it's a wide open competition and I think all guys are doing a great job making it difficult.

"With Carlo not on the ice and we're a man down, it opens a door for another guy to step in as long as the opportunity is there."

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Vladimir Sobotka, who has skated on his own but not with the team since camp opened nearly two weeks ago, is still on the mend from a shoulder injury sustained while playing for Boston in the playoffs this past spring.

Payne said it'll be another "week to 10 days" before Sobotka, acquired at the draft for prospect David Warsofsky, can engage in contact and getting on the ice with his teammates. Payne didn't sound optimistic Sobotka would be ready to play in the season opener Oct. 9 against Philadelphia but didn't rule it out either.

* Backes, McDonald back to yesteryear? -- The early talk of camp is that both Andy McDonald and David Backes would be looked at back at their regular positions, which for McDonald would be center and right wing for Backes.

But Tuesday, there was Backes centering a line between Brad Boyes and David Perron. McDonald was on left wing with Patrik Berglund at center and T.J. Oshie on right wing.

One thing certain is that Payne likes the combination of Perron, Backes and Boyes. He feels they are playing well at both ends of the ice.

"I would clarify where all the talk was coming from in that we thought that we would take a look at some things," Payne said. "It would be dependent on how certain guys played and how certain guys fit together.

"David (Backes) and David (Perron) and Brad have looked really good together. We want to continue to see how that evolves. We've got three righties there that provide a little bit of everything and a little bit of a different element to the line. We like what we see so far and they've clicked pretty well on the power play. For now, we're going to see that look."

* Hensick to Peoria -- The Blues trimmed their roster by one Tuesday, optioning T.J. Hensick to Peoria after the center cleared waivers Tuesday.

The move leaves the Blues with 29 players in camp, including the injured Sobotka and Colaiacovo.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Berglund rededicates himself to Blues

No. 1 pick in 2006 feels he has point to prove:
"I want to show everybody that I'm a real good hockey player"

ST. LOUIS -- When Patrik Berglund overslept one Saturday morning late last season that caused him to miss out on a team practice, it was the culmination of a season to forget for the Blues' center.

It was a prototypical Sophomore Slump for the Vasteras, Sweden native, who has no issues leaving the 2009-10 season in the rear view mirror.

Berglund, 22, would finish the season with 13 goals and 26 points after a rookie season that saw the 6-foot-4, 215-pound first-round pick (25th overall) in 2006 finish with 21 goals and 47 points. He was also a plus-19 his rookie season; minus-5 a season ago despite netting four game-winners.

There was plenty of hype made for Berglund heading into his sophomore season. The talent and tools were and still are there to be in the upper echelon of centers in the National Hockey League. But it's been a challenge at times to bring out the best in Berglund.

That's why Berglund took the time to alter his living habits and training regimen this past summer. Instead of spending most of his summer in his native land, Berglund decided to stay here, dedicate himself fully and work on being the consummate professional, both on and off the ice.

With much anticipation and plenty to prove, Berglund called it the best decision he's made as far as his hockey career is concerned.

"I always thought I've been working out good and working out hard, but this year, I've been more professional taking care of all the other things, too; eating right, getting the rest and all those things," Berglund said. "In early May when I started to work out, I took care of all this and I felt how my body was changing and how good I felt. I just kept going like that all summer. Obviously I've gotten some good results in camp. It feels really good and I'm giving myself a chance to be really good."

Berglund has carried a hyped-up label with him since the Blues took him with their second of two first-round picks in 2006 (Erik Johnson was taken No. 1 overall that year). The Blues even moved up five spots in the draft so they can get their claws on the tall, lanky center.

But Berglund has been the epitome of inconsistency. Just when it appeared he'd play like he was the best player on the ice, Berglund would fall into some bad habits that flawed his game. It's been the story of his NHL career.

But some good old fashioned soul searching brought Berglund to this conclusion, and he's banking on parlaying a dedicated summer into his best season yet and prove to Blues fans just why he was a No. 1 pick.

"You can tell here in practice and in the (recent Blue-Gold) scrimmage that he's gotten a lot stronger," said Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who's played with Berglund much of the current camp. "I think his confidence has raised quite a bit. For me personally, I've been dealing with him from the very beginning and I think I understand what he can do out there and what he brings to the table. I see what he can do and he can do it. He's been doing it lately. I'm excited to see how he does out there."

Oshie added, "He's always been a big guy and protecting the puck well, but now I think he's big and strong, which will be a huge factor. If he gets his physical game, he's going to be a very dynamic player out there."

Berglund has always been quiet by nature. He goes about his business in a very calm-like manner. But if Blues fans begin to notice a more dedicated version ... one with something to prove, that wouldn't be an incorrect summation.

"I want to show everybody that I'm a real good hockey player and that my teammates and this organization can count on me," Berglund said. "That's what I'm working for. I'm obviously competing against myself to be as good as I can on a daily basis. I obviously want to show everybody I'm a good hockey player and I can contribute to this team."

Berglund did go back home to spend some time with his family and friends in Sweden. But the visit was not as prolonged as previous years.

For those that are 24-7, 365-day hockey junkies, fans could catch Berglund spending a lot of his time at the team's practice facility at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Mills this summer. It was there that Berglund hit the weights, stayed in shape and lived the proper daily program outlined to him by the Blues' strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte.

"I feel a huge difference from last year," Berglund said. "I could be home in Sweden working out as well if I did what I did and took care of myself. But obviously, it was good to work out here."

Berglund admitted when he first got to North America and the NHL that it was not all glitz and glamour. He expected it to be the high life.

He had to learn the hard way.

"It takes time and you learn from your mistakes. The first time you get here, I don't think you're ready for everything," Berglund said. "There's many games ... if you make the playoffs, all the traveling, how you're going to stay in shape for that long. It's a long stretch and you've got to take care of your body. I think I haven't done that the last two years in a way that you want to perform good every game. If you want to feel good about yourself, you have to do it every day, which I haven't done. That's what I've done so far. The season hasn't started, but I've been doing that all summer and I've seen some good results. I'm going to continue to have really good routines when I'm home and when I'm here now. So far, it feels good."

The expectations are part of this young Blues squad, and those expectations have fallen into the lap of all those younger guys, including Berglund.

"It's part of the challenge a couple of us young guys have is to step up into these new roles and show what we can do and live up to the expectations," Oshie said. "Bergy's dedicated to doing that like the rest of us."

Berglund has a goal and an assist in two preseason games. If the Blues are to assert themselves as contenders in the Western Conference, they need Berglund to establish himself as a top bonafide center.

"I just look to compete at a high level. I want to contribute to the team and I know when I get the chance, that I'm good at what I do," Berglund said. "It's just about competing hard at this level and working hard. If you do that, you will get the chances and obviously you get goals. You will get rewarded and that's what I'm looking for."

(9-25-10) Blues-Stars Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- After another successful outing against the Minnesota Wild, the Blues hit the road for back-to-back outings this weekend.

The Blues (2-1), square off in Dallas against the Stars today at 7 p.m., then they have a rematch in Denver Sunday against the Avalanche at 8 p.m. after losing to Colorado 3-1 Tuesday in the preseason opener.

The Blues scored three more power play goals Friday (Brett Sonne, Alex Steen and David Perron) after netting three with the man advantage in Wednesday's 5-1 win at Minnesota.

Perron and Steen each scored two goals in the game and Ty Conklin backstopped all 21 shots he saw in his first preseason action. Defensemen Ian Cole (26:08 time on ice) and Roman Polak (24:35 TOI) led the way in front of Conklin. They combined to collect three assists and were plus-2.

The Blues will take a mixture of players off both Blue and the Gold rosters to take on the Stars (1-1).

The tentative line combinations include:

T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Matt D'Agostini

David Spina-Andy McDonald-Graham Mink

Stefan Della Rovere-Philip McRae-Tyler Shattock

Brad Winchester-Dave Scatchard-Cam Janssen

Extra forwards are Chris DeSousa and Anthony Peluso.

The Blues are taking six defensemen, and they include:

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Brett Ponich-Erik Johnson

Nikita Nikitin-Brennan Evans

Jaroslav Halak is expected to get his second start in goal after allowing three goals in 18 shots in his Blues debut against Colorado. Jake Allen would be the backup.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

(9-24-10) Wild-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Blues coach Davis Payne, although pleased with his group's performance during Wednesday night's 5-1 win at Minnesota, understands this is the preseason and mixing and matching is the way to go to get a full understanding of his personnel during the preseason.

Payne got more from the group that played Wednesday as opposed to the squad that dressed for Tuesday night's 3-1 home loss to Colorado.

The power play was a huge difference, as the Blues were 0-for-6 with the man advantage Tuesday while scoring three times on seven opportunities Wednesday.

"The power play has to make a difference," Payne said. "It's not going to every night. There's a group of penalty killers that are paid to defend that situation, too. ... The power play has to maintain momentum, it has to maintain pressure and the team has to come back 5 on 5 and maintain that role.

"We did a much better job with our two-man game in the offensive zone maintaining possession. The zone time went up. Power plays went up because of that and the power play was quite sharp. I just want to see this group maintain that in the right direction."

After a pair of groups worked out Thursday and today at Scottrade Center, this is what the lineup shapes up to look like for tonight's rematch with the Wild.

The forwards in the lineup include:

David Perron-David Backes-Brad Boyes

Alex Steen-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen

Chris Porter-T.J. Hensick-Nick Drazenovic

Anthony Nigro-Brett Sonne-Cody Beach

The extra forwards are Stephen MacAulay, Adam Cracknell and Ryan Reaves.

Defensive pairings include:

Carlo Colaiacovo-Tyson Strachan

Ian Cole-Roman Polak

Eric Brewer-Mark Cundari

The extra d-men include Dean Arsene and Daryl Boyle.

In goal will be Ty Conklin, his first action of this preseason. He will be backed up by Ben Bishop, who stopped 23 of 24 shots Wednesday in Minnesota.

McRae making strong push during Blues camp

Son of former Blue is one of top
prospects, making favorable impression

ST. LOUIS -- Blues prospect Philip McRae was just a toddler at the time, watching his Dad Basil play for the Blues in the early to mid-1990s.

McRae, a highly-touted Blues prospect, admitted even at such a young age, he was a rink rat. And who could blame him? Some of Dad's teammates were household, star-like names. They were idols to many.

"I always hung out around the locker room and meeting Brett Hull and Curtis Joseph was probably the coolest part about having a dad that played," Philip McRae said.

Imagine being able to laugh, giggle and be a kid with Brett Hull, Curtis Joseph and Brendan Shanahan playfully going along. One is a Hall of Famer, while the other two have legitimate opportunities to be. Those are memories a kid can take with them for the rest of their lives.

It would certainly give a kid the desire to want to be a hockey player himself. McRae was no exception.

"I've always loved the game of hockey," McRae said. "Every boy who plays hockey, his dream is to play in the NHL one day."

McRae has certainly embarked on that journey, and in his second training camp with the Blues after being drafted in the second round (33rd overall) in 2008, people are taking notice of McRae's stock. And it's spiking higher than a successful Wall Street day.

A product of one season at CBC High School, McRae, 20, is one of the prospects that has raised a few eyebrows that has garnered a few extra looks.

"I think (camp's) been pretty good so far," said McRae, who scored the Blues' first goal in Wednesday night's 5-1 win at Minnesota. "I was in the main camp last year, so I kind of knew what to expect. I've just been trying to work hard. I'm going to do everything I can."

McRae, who has played for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League the past four seasons -- a team that his father is currently a part owner of and played for in the late 70's and early 80's -- has certainly gotten the attention of his teammates.

He's been primarily playing with Brad Boyes and David Perron in camp and developed some nice chemistry.

McRae helped set Boyes up for a nice goal during the Blue-Gold scrimmage Sunday, then was able to snipe home a goal from a sharp angle Wednesday.

It's a safe bet to say Philip's hands are a touch softer than Basil, who made a living in the league playing the enforcer role.

"It's good to see the potential that he's got. He's got some great vision out there and he seems to read the play," Boyes said of McRae. "He's got that offensive knack; he's got great hands.

"If you've got a guy like that in the middle who's got decent size and can move and can handle the puck and make plays like that is encouraging. I love to play with him. Early on, we got on the same page and that makes it easier."

McRae, at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, could benefit from a bit more muscle to play at the NHL level. His frame can certainly absorb more muscle mass. That's why this past summer was important to do some extra work with the fitness and strength.

"Over the summer, I really worked hard on my strength and speed," said McRae, who tallied 11 goals and 37 points in 33 games for London a season ago. "Everyone's so much bigger, faster and stronger (in the NHL). In the OHL, the oldest players are 20, 21 years old and you're playing against men up here. The game is just a lot faster. You have to make plays that much quicker."

McRae is adjusting accordingly, which bodes well for a franchise that can benefit from the development of a solid center within the organization.

"He's a young guy that's got a really good shot and good hands," Perron said. "He's got good hockey sense.

"Every year he's getting better, every year he's getting more confident and I think that’s the big thing," Perron said. "At least for me, coming into the league you have to be really confident in your own skills. I'd say two years ago he wasn't there as much in terms of confidence because he was always asking if he was doing the right thing or not. I told him, 'You’re a real good hockey player. Just do what you do out there and you'll be fine.'"

McRae won't hide from the fact that both Boyes and Perron have been helpful.

"They're always talking to me and helping me out in drills and things like that," he said. "They're letting me know if they want me to do things differently and things like that. They've been really good to play with and they're obviously very talented players and that helps."

Depending on what happens from here on out, McRae will certainly be on the Blues' radar as far as playing in the organization -- specifically here.

Depending on what happens with injuries, he could play a prominent role with the Blues in the very near future, but his goal is to be here as quickly as possible.

"I think there's a lot of upside to him," Boyes said of McRae. "He's a great kid and he listens. He goes out there, works hard and that's a big positive."

"I've been working hard and trying to do whatever I can to be here as long as I can," McRae said.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Add Ponich to list of defensive depth for Blues

Defenseman's ultimate goal of playing in
NHL being aided by working with Johnson

ST. LOUIS -- When Marshall Davidson got his first glimpse of Brett Ponich, it wasn't a hockey picture he saw. It was more like visions of Sesame Street.

Davidson, Blues President John Davidson's brother and amateur Western scout for the Blues who has a keen eye for players primarily in the Western Hockey League, came away wondering what the Blues really had when they drafted Ponich in the second round (48th overall pick) in 2009.

"If you saw him early last season, you might have come away thinking he looked like Big Bird on skates, if you know what I mean," Marshall Davidson joked. "But the more we went back to see him, the better he got."

And as the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Ponich outgrew his Big Bird status, he's entrenched himself quite nicely at Blues camp this season under the watchful eye of fellow defenseman Erik Johnson, the top overall pick in 2006.

Not a bad player to try and model oneself after.

Ponich, an Edmonton, Alberta native who's spent the past three full seasons and a part of a third with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, has been under Johnson's wing since the start of camp. The two have been paired together in practices and played on the same line during Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Colorado.

In the grand scheme of things, Ponich, who is trending upward on the depth chart scale despite a heavy load of defensive prospects, played very well in his first preseason game, even getting some praise from coach Davis Payne in the process.

But the valuable experience Ponich is gaining watching and learning from Johnson has made this, his second camp, a much smoother transition.

"It's fortunate that I got paired up with a guy like him," Ponich said of Johnson. "He's very personable, and he has no problem coming up to you and letting you know what you did wrong. I really enjoy that because I'm here to get better and learn from him. He's great on the ice, likes to take charge and he's talking to me out there and makes it a lot easier for me.

"EJ's an extremely skilled player and if I'm ever able to play like him, I'll be really thrilled with that. It's little smart plays and positionally how he plays guys out of the corner. I'm more of a shutdown guy so I really look at how he plays defensively and I try and take that from him."

Ponich, who models himself after guys like Chris Pronger, Zdeno Chara and Hal Gill among others, displays the ability to position himself well in his own end, but in order to play that big-time shut-down role in his own end, he knows the skating ability is where he needs most work on.

Developing a consistently good shot on the offensive end wouldn't be a bad thing either.

"He's still developing. I don't think he's hit his full potential yet, but he's got all the tools to be a successful in the league," Johnson said of Ponich. "He works really hard and wants to get better. He's showing signs of being a good player and wanting to be a good player and those are the ingredients you need to be a successful.

"He wants to improve his shot, improve his skating. I've given him names of skating coaches I went to see when I was a younger kid. He wants to be critiqued and he wants to be helped out and I'm more than willing to do what I can to make him a better player."

It wasn't long ago that Johnson in the same position as Ponich. Although still learning himself, Johnson has no qualms taking on that big brother role.

"It's a newer role for me, but it's something I'm ready to embrace," he said. "I had guys do it for me when I was younger. Even though I'm still a younger guy, I can take on that role and really help him out and make the transition easy and make him feel comfortable."

Ponich is learning on the fly just where he needs to be. He's increased his muscle mass and went from 209 pounds to 225 in camp recently.

Chasing T.J. Oshie around the ice will do that to you, and having to muscle up with the likes of David Backes, Cam Janssen or Brad Winchester can impact the body.

"I love this kind of hockey. It's real fun to play with that intensity," Ponich said. "You have guys like Winchester who really challenges me to be as strong as I can and then you have guys like Oshie who challenges me to be as quick as I can. It's been an eye-opener, but it's been really fun."

Talent and ability play a big role in a player's development and eventual role in the NHL. But the other 50 percent must come from the mental aspect, and Ponich has the right attitude when it comes to one day wearing the Blue Note.

"It's great playing in Portland, but I want to play here as soon as I can," said Ponich, the captain for his WHL squad. "It's just one more step towards my goal. ... I spent two weeks here last year and I'm on my second week here (this year). I feel like I've improved a whole lot being up here skating with these guys. Every time I'm here, I try and take a little bit back.

"I think I'm on track here. I just do what they tell me to do and I'll be here as soon as I can."

(9-22-10) Blues-Wild Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The chemistry between Brad Boyes, David Perron and Philip McRae has caught the eye of not only the Blues themselves but from those watching from afar.

The trio dazzled fans on Sunday at Scottrade Center and have been impressive enough in camp that they will also showcase their skills today when the Blues play preseason game No. 2 in Minnesota against the Wild (7 p.m.) at Xcel Energy Center.

"We're going to get into real situations, how we go, how we match and I'm looking forward to it," said Boyes, who's used camp himself to fine-tune his game. "The more you get to play with each other, the more you get to know each other."

Boyes scored the shootout winner in Sunday's scrimmage and also scored in regulation time as McRae and Perron also had a hand in the goal.

"They're really good to play with," said McRae, whose dad Basil was a member of the Blues. "They're obviously very talented players."

Some other notable players to keep an eye on tonight include Ian Cole, who will play with Roman Polak. Cole is one of four defensemen trying to win a job. Also in that mix include Nikita Nikitin and Tyson Strachan. The two of them will be paired together tonight.

* * *

Tonight's lineup against the Wild:

Alex Steen-David Backes-Graham Mink

David Perron-Philip McRae-Brad Boyes

Chris Porter-Jay McClement-Tyler Shattock

Stefan Della Rovere-Adam Cracknell-Cam Janssen

Not making the trip are B.J. Crombeen, Chris DeSousa and Stephen MacAulay.

Defensive pairings include:

Roman Polak-Ian Cole

Eric Brewer-David Shields

Nikita Nikitin-Tyson Strachan

Daryl Boyle
and Mark Cundari will not play.

Ben Bishop and Jake Allen will be play in goal. Ty Conklin will not accompany the team.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blues drop exhibition opener to Avalanche

Halak makes debut; Berglund's
shorthanded tally only St. Louis goal

ST. LOUIS -- Tough to gauge what to make of the Blues' 3-1 preseason loss to the Colorado Tuesday night.

Some decent glimpses were visible from a number of players, but as is the case in any preseason opener, there were some glaring deficiencies as well.

Patrik Berglund netted the lone Blues' goal, a shorthanded effort off a steal-and-feed from T.J. Oshie, Jaroslav Halak made his Blues debut and played the entire game before being lifted for a sixth-attacker with 2 minutes 19 seconds remaining.

The big fireworks for the announced crowd of 10,615 at Scottrade Center came with 6:25 to play when Barret Jackman and Anthony Peluso were in the middle of a brawl that resulted in 26 minutes in penalties, including 10-minute misconducts each for Peluso and Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau.

What may be surprising is that it took the veteran Jackman to spark a fire, considering there were a number of players on the ice for the Blues that are battling for jobs on the NHL level.

"Just had to stick up for myself. I got hit," Jackman said, referring to Bordeleau. "I don't care if it's exhibition or the regular season. I play the same way.

"It's not the old NHL where you have five, 10 fights. It's different. It's more of a skill game, but there's still the need for the rough stuff and it showed."

Jackman was paired with Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues' top pick (No. 4 overall) in 2008, and Erik Johnson was paired on the blue line with Brett Ponich, the team's second-round pick (48th overall). Oshie and Berglund played well, as they were on a line with Matt D'Agostini.

"Brett Ponich played a solid game for a guy who's a big defenseman who uses his stick and his angles well," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "I thought Osh played well, but other than that, we'd like to see some more from guys who are either trying to stake a claim in the lineup or stake a claim within that lineup.

"Some of these guys who are here to make a statement with the opportunity that's there for them, I thought were slow to get to that point."

Halak, acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens in June for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz, stopped 15 of 18 shots but allowed a pair of second-period goals in a 31-second span to David Jones and Luke Walker.

"The first game is always the tough one after the break you have," Halak said. "... We did some really good things out there.

"Not a lot of action was going on (in front of the Blues' net). It wasn't really a hard game for me. Too bad they scored three goals."

The Blues outshot the Avs 34-18 in the game and were 0-for-6 on the power play.

The Blues' Gold squad will travel to Minnesota today for a game against the Wild at 7 p.m.

(9-21-10) Avalanche-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Unlike NFL players, NHL guys have the luxury of hitting somebody else just a few days into training camp.

Just four days after opening camp at St. Louis Mills, the Blues will line up against another opponent when they open the preseason slate today against the Colorado Avalanche at 7 p.m.

"There's that competitive edge here in the first couple days of training camp playing against each other, especially in (Sunday's) scrimmage," forward T.J. Oshie said. "Guys weren't going out there trying to hurt people. There were some big hits, but it's going to be nice out here when you can see some guys that are physical to really step into their roles.

"You almost feel bad hitting someone when they have their head down from your own team."

* * *

It may only be a preseason game, but for Blues forward T.J. Hensick, it's the chance to prove to the team that traded him away that he can still play.

Hensick, acquired by the Blues in June from the Avalanche for prospect Julian Talbot, spent most of 2009-10 with the Avs' AHL club in Lake Erie. He registered 20 goals and 70 points in 58 games, while only collecting one goal and three points in seven games with Colorado.

"I'm pretty tight with a lot of those guys," Hensick said of his former teammates. "I talked to Chris Stewart for a couple minutes last night. Coincidently, it just happens to be Colorado.

"For me, it's just playing my game, trying to show St. Louis I can still play in the NHL and I'm deserving of a spot."

Hensick, 24, is right in the mix competing for one of the last slots at forward and regardless of friends tonight, it's another opponent.

"Game on for sure," Hensick joked. "I was with Colorado, but I'm in St. Louis now. I'm still fighting for a spot, and no matter who's on the other side, I just gotta go."

* * *

The Blues will dress 20 players tonight.

The lineup for tonight's game is as follows:

T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Matt D'Agostini

Nick Drazenovic-Andy McDonald-David Spina

Brett Sonne-T.J. Hensick-Anthony Peluso

Brad Winchester-Dave Scatchard-Ryan Reaves

Anthony Nigro and Cody Beach were the extra forwards and will not play tonight.

The defensive pairings are:

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Brett Ponich-Erik Johnson

Dean Arsene-Nathan Oystrick

Brennan Evans and Carlo Colaiacovo were the extra d-men and will not dress.

Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal and play roughly half the game and will be relieved by Jake Allen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blues searching for more backline scoring

Already a top shut-down defenseman,
Polak could be key contributor offensively

ST. LOUIS -- Roman Polak understands that he's got a pretty heavy shot and that his skating ability is better than average for someone with a bull-like body.

Polak, 24, is not only developing into one of the Blues' steadiest defensemen but also in the league as well.

His physical strength and work ethic in the defensive zone is noticed by his teammates, coaches and most importantly, the opposition. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, the Ostrava, Czech Republic native will certainly force you to earn your keep in the Blues' end of the ice.

"His closing speed and his strength getting there and his strength on his skates, it's impressive," Blues coach Davis Payne said of Polak. "Not only can he get there, but he can outmuscle a lot of guys when he gets to the puck. That's what makes him so effective.

"I think Roman is a guy who's got some excellent defensive strengths."

As Polak, who represented the Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics in February, enters his third full NHL season and fifth overall, there's also the ability to unload a heavy shot from the point and a quick skating ability most big men do not possess. He was the team's top skater for the second year in a row in the fitness testing skills.

But there's an area the Blues would like to utilize Polak and feel his game fits the bill.

Erik Johnson is expected to be the Blues' top offensive defenseman, along with Carlo Colaiacovo. But there's a belief Polak can be a key offensive contributor as well.

Polak has five goals and 37 points in his career (4 goals, 17 assists last season in 78 games) but with the Blues' need for more offensive contributions from not only their forwards, the defensemen are going to be asked to be more involved under Payne's system. And Polak is one guy the Blues believe can jump into the play without sacrificing the ability to defend.

"I think his confidence with the puck, his ability to get shots through, his ability to join the rush and when to join the offensive zone," Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw said when asked what Polak can bring to the table. "He's a big, strong guy. He's been strong forever. He's been feisty forever. We have never asked him to get involved physically.

"We'd like him to be a little bit more involved on the offensive side without having to give anything up defensively. You have to be careful sometimes what you ask for because sometimes the scales get tipped the other way too much. He's a great young man with a great work ethic. I think he wants to keep driving to see how good he can get as a hockey player. From that respect, he's a real good guy to work with because he absorbs everything, he takes it all in, he tries to apply it to his game. I think the offensive side ... three, four, five, six years down the road, it's probably a little more of a complete guy at both ends of the rink."

Polak is arguably the Blues' best shut-down defenseman and prides himself on blanketing the best in the game. Even though there is some desire to contribute on the offensive side of the ice, Polak is hesitant to sacrifice where he's needed most.

"I don't want to go onto the offensive zone too much, but it's an area that I can improve a little bit," Polak said after Monday's practice at Scottrade Center. "I want to focus on the defensive side first and then we'll see, maybe join the rush a little bit more. I want to focus on the defensive side, play my game and keep it as simple as possible."

Brad Boyes sees Polak in practice every day, and the Blues' winger knows exactly what it feels like on those hard, tough encounters with his teammate.

"He's tough. He's got a long stick and he uses it pretty well," Boyes said. "He's very strong, so it's tough when he battles. He's a meat and potatoes guy. It's tough going up against guys like that. He never quits.

"It forces you to work hard, too. It forces you to keep battling. You want to beat guys like that. It's a good sense of accomplishment when you can beat a guy like that."

Although opposing forwards typically feel Polak's physicality with each passing shift, there are areas in his own zone Polak is using training camp to make improvements on. Making those upgrades could lead to more offensive opportunities.

"The first touch with the puck, keeping things simple and find the first outlet," Polak said. "If I can do that, then I can go into the offensive (zone) and join the rush.

"Yeah, I got a shot. I can skate. I can join the rush and go to the net. I don't have the great hands like the forwards do, but if I can just play a simple game and go to the net, I can shoot the puck."

So as Polak moves forward without giving up those odd-man rushes should he take the risk, it comes down to reading the plays properly and using the correct instincts, something his coaches feel he has.

"I think it's more knowledge because it happens so fast," Polak said. "You have to decide if you can go or not. I don't want to make a mistake. I don't want to jump into the rush and all of the sudden, the puck's going the other way and they're going 2-on-1 or 3-on-1. I just have to make the smart read there whether to do it or not."

Polak's hesitancy in the past to join the rush had nothing to do with uncertainty but who typically he's with on the ice. When he's constantly wondering where Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews or Henrik Zetterberg are and working on shutting them down, it makes the thought a tough one to move knowing a quick counter can cost his team at the other end.

"When you're playing against the first line, it's always tough to join the rush because you're thinking too much about stopping them," Polak said. "I just want to stay on the defensive side because you're playing against great players."

The Blues understand the process may not happen overnight, but they're willing to make it a project, one they feel can bring positive results.

"You get into those situations enough .. he's an explosive skater, so when it calls for a guy to jump in and he makes that decision, he has the ability to get there," Shaw said of Polak. "We don't want to hold him back. We'd like him to keep getting better at those reads so he knows when it is time to go and when it's not. We don't want to give up anything defensively to try and create all this extra offense. ... We're trying to layer all this on, and Roman's a part of that layering as far as the defensive corps goes."

It's been a steady climb thus far, and the Blues are glad to be reaping the rewards from Polak's climb -- hopfully at both ends of the ice.

"So far, so good," Polak said. "This is just training camp and it's going to be different in the real games."

Blues vs. Colorado/Minnesota lineups

Lineup vs. Colorado (9-21-10)
Goalies: Halak, Allen
Defensemen: Arsene, Colaiacovo, Evans, Jackman, Johnson, Oystrick, Pietrangelo, Ponich
Forwards: Beach, Berglund, D'Agostini, Drazenovic, Hensick, Janssen, McDonald, Nigro, Oshie, Scatchard, Shattock, Sonne, Spina, Winchester

Lineup at Minnesota (9-22-10)
Goalies: Bishop, Coleman, Conklin
Defensemen: Boyle, Brewer, Cole, Cundari, Nikitin, Polak, Shields, Strachan
Forwards: Backes, Boyes, Cracknell, Crombeen, Della Rovere, DeSousa, MacAulay, McClement, McRae, Mink, Peluso, Perron, Porter, Reaves, Steen.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gold squad bests Blue 5-4 in scrimmage

Boyes scores shootout winner; Berglund,
D'Agostini, Della Rovere net goal, assist each

ST. LOUIS -- If the Blues are to gain any ground in an already difficult Western Conference, they will need a blast from the past of Brad Boyes from two, maybe three years ago.

Boyes potted 43 goals for the Blues three seasons ago, then slipped to 33 goals in 2008-09, before bottoming out to 14 goals a season ago.

Even though it was just a scrimmage among teammates, it was a good sign for the 3,450 Blues fans that came despite the wet, dreary conditions outside to see Boyes net a goal and clinch the game with a shootout in the Gold team's 5-4 win over the Blue squad Sunday at Scottrade Center.

Boyes, who was on a line with David Perron and rising prospect Philip McRae, scored a nice goal off a feed from his linemates with 2:30 remaining in the first half -- the game was played over a pair of 25-minute halves -- before scoring the deciding shootout goal.

It was a spirited effort by both sides that saw some encouraging efforts.

"It was good. The first time in a while for some of us with a little bit of contact," Boyes said. "It wasn't game-like contact, but there were still some decent hits out there. ... The pace wasn't bad. It was a good start."

The Perron-McRae-Boyes made creative plays throughout the game.

"It was great playing with Phil, a young guy that's got a really good shot, good hands and good hockey sense," Perron said of McRae. "We all know what Boysie can do when he gets the puck on his stick in the slot. That's what we decided to do. I tried to get him the puck. "

The Blue line of Matt D'Agostini-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie stood out for its team.

Berglund and D'Agostini had a goal and an assist, while Stefan Della Rovere collected a goal and an assist for the Gold, as the two teams traded goals throughout the game, with the Blue squad grabbing the lead each time.

Cam Janssen and David Spina also scored for the Blue. Roman Polak and Adam Cracknell scored goals for the Gold, with Cracknell tying the game with 2:16 to play in the contest.

"It was a pace that guys on the outside looking in are trying to make an impression and at the same time, we have to give them a chance to really show what they can do and play with good structure," Perron said. "I think it's a good way to get back into a hitting mode."

Boyes scored the winner on the Gold's third attempt after Russian defenseman Nikita Nikitin scored a nifty goal to put the Gold ahead.

"I was nervous because the ice was terrible," Boyes said. "The first time on the ice, it's gonna get beat up. We practiced and went through a whole game. I saw Andy (McDonald) go at it. The puck was like a basketball, so I just figured I'd go down and shoot it. Even though I fanned on it, I got lucky."

The big hit of the day came from veteran Dave Scatchard, who laid the lumber on defenseman Ian Cole in the far corner that kept Cole on the ice momentarily. He did get up and skate off on his own power.

"I'm going for the puck, there's a guy coming from this side of me, a guy coming from that side of me and I was like, 'Aw, sh--," Cole joked. "... I saw them coming, but I had nowhere else to go. So I was like, 'Well, this might hurt a little bit.'"

The pace was smooth but intense for a scrimmage.

"You've got guys trying to make the squad," Cole said. "... It was pretty quick out there. It was good to play as close to a real game with the best players in the world."

Blue 2 2 (0) -- 4
Gold 2 2 (2) -- 5
First Half
B -- Janssen (Hensick), 2:40.
G -- Della Rovere (shootout), 7:49.
B -- D'Agostini (Berglund), 19:53.
G -- Boyes (McRae, Perron), 22:30.
Second Half
B -- Berglund (D'Agostini, Johnson), 9:49.
G -- Polak (Crombeen, Brewer), 12:00.
B -- Spina (Drazenovic, McDonald), 14:36.
G -- Cracknell (Strachan, Della Rovere), 22:44.
Blue: McDonald (NG), D'Agostini (NG)
Gold: Polak (NG), Nikitin (G), Boyes (G)
Blue: Coleman, Halak
Gold: Conklin, Bishop
Attendance: 3,450

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Johnson comes long way in short time

No. 1 overall pick in 2006 has matured into
complete player, entrusted with assistant captaincy

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It seems like only yesterday when the Blues made an 18-year-old from Bloomington, Minnesota the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

It was the summer of 2006 when a young but highly touted kid from the U.S. National Team Development Program -- bound for the University of Minnesota -- that was the first player to step to the podium at Vancouver's GM Place. It was the beginning of a lifelong journey on the road to the National Hockey League.

Four years later for Erik Johnson, there have been some bumps along the way -- a significant knee injury that sidelined the Blues' defenseman for the entire 2008-09 season -- but the process of development on and off the ice has been quite precocious.

Johnson's ability on the ice is no hidden secret, and his production of a season ago (10 goals, 29 assists) is just a prelude of what's to come in the coming years. But it's Johnson's maturation process that has sprouted by leaps and bounds.

And recently, somebody has taken notice: Blues management and coaching staff. Johnson was awarded one of four assistant captain A's this season by coach Davis Payne. It's something the 22-year-old Johnson considers special. And it's a role he fully entends to embrace after Payne gave Johnson a glowing endorsement.

"It says a lot about where we think Erik is as a player, it says a lot about where we think he is as a person," Payne said. "He's a guy who's got a lot of pride in not only his performance but the St. Louis Blues' performance and where we're going as an organization right here in this city. He's a guy who's got very strong beliefs in that direction, he's also a guy who relates and speaks well and takes that younger portion of our hockey team and gives them a voice. We feel he's going to have a little bit of time to, within the group, kind of monitor how things work. He's a guy we expect a strong example and a strong voice to come from now and down the road."

What it also does is officially signify that the Blues have ushered out the old and brought in the new. It's not a knock on some of the older veterans such as Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya and Darryl Sydor but more of a changing of the guard.

"It's a big honor. ... I've put a lot of work in the off-season. I think that's a big thing about setting a standard and showing the young guys that the summer's just as important as the winter when you're playing," Johnson said. "I'm a younger guy, but I think that I work hard and set a good example and try and take younger guys under my wing and just be an all-around leader. More than just being vocal, I think it's so much more. It's how you set the work ethic out on the ice and so many more other things off the ice that I think I can help the guys with and become a big, key piece for this team -- in the locker room and on the ice."

It's kind of strange when Johnson talks about the "younger" guys, since he's still one himself. He found himself Saturday for the first practice session of training camp talking things over with Blues trainer Ray Barile.

"I was like, 'Man, I feel like an old guy out here right now,'" Johnson joked. "(However), still being 22, that's a good thing though. I'm playing with Brett Ponich (in camp) trying to help him along. I was just in his shoes a couple years ago. It's nice to have an older guy show you the way and have a shoulder to lean on and just that extra comfort knowing what to do in the drills.

"I'm a younger guy, but I'm an older guy and I need to play like one and I need to lead the way like one."

Johnson, along with David Backes, Barret Jackman and Alex Steen will wear the 'A' this season, as Eric Brewer will serve as captain. But just because those guys will wear a letter this season doesn't mean each member won't have a prominent voice. It will be a collective effort that will carry this group on. And they look forward to the challenges that face each one of them.

"It kind of feels like you've got a job and you just got a big promotion," forward T.J. Oshie said. "You're excited about that. We're going to do the best we can and set a good example. That's kind of the way we feel right now. I want to step in, and I know I'm not the biggest leader on the team, but I think my effort on the ice and maybe being a little bit more vocal in the locker room, I think my teammates will respect that. That's a role I need to take on."

Payne agrees.

"We know what they're capable of. Now, you've kind of added a little bit of authority to their process," said Payne, who begins his first full NHL season behind the bench this season. "... It's not a burden they're carrying on their own. It's an example. We just want them to keep being the players they are. We want to make sure they understand that they can't look at any certain day with any less importance because guys are following their lead. That's what that group is all about and that's the message that they have to carry forward every day. We trust them. We trust them with our message and that's how this group's gonna move forward."

Johnson, who also represented Team USA along with Backes at the Winter Olympics in February, was not looking for the accolades of being named assistant captain. But since it was bestowed upon him, he has embraced the honor.

"Those things get handed to you based on what other people think about you and after they see what kind of effort you put forth and what kind of person you are," Johnson said. "It's never something that you go and think you deserve or anything like that. ... People see qualities in you that will help this team succeed."

So for players like Johnson, Backes, Oshie, David Perron, Roman Polak, Steen, Jay McClement and so forth, it's their team now. It's up to them how they choose to go forward, because there's no more Keith Tkachuks and Paul Kariyas to guide them.

"All the years Paul and Walt put in, they deserved what they got but ... it's a young team," Johnson said. "We've only got three guys over 30 (Ty Conklin, Andy McDonald and Brewer) so us young guys have to take the bull by the horns and really lead the way and dictate the play and be key pieces off the ice just as much as on the ice. We have a lot of expectations to live up to and a lot of pressure, but it's pressure we invite and pressure we want. I'm really excited about it and everyone's excited about this year and making the playoffs."

A deep run in the playoffs possibly?

"The goal's to play until June," Johnson insists. "We had a long summer to get ready for the season. This is the season for sure we plan on playing until June and going all the way."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Questions regarding 2010-11 St. Louis Blues

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Many storylines will take place as the Blues prepare for the 2010-11 season, some of which will be key should this team return to the postseason.

In this writer's take, here are a list of questions that need answers in order for the Blues to be successful, make positive strides as the franchise and makes the playoffs with the ultimate goal -- winning that elusive first Stanley Cup:

Will Brad Boyes return to seasons past?
It's no secret that the Blues suffered last season because of a goal shortage. No, Boyes wasn't the sole reason why, but he was a critical portion of it. It's easy to notice when someone goes from 43 to 33 to 14 goals scored. For a player that's only 28, that's a drastic fall-off. Boyes must put more goals away this season. It's absolutely imperative he becomes this team's go-to guy. Do I expect 40-plus? No, but if Boyes can get back into the 30-35 range, the Blues will be well off. With Boyes, it's all about playing with confidence.

Does Patrik Berglund need to lift his game to another level?
Berglund put up terrific numbers his rookie season, even surprising the coaching staff and Blues management to a certain degree. Berglund's 47 points were eye-opening and it was only natural to expect bigger and better last season. But that never materialized and Berglund's number slipped (13-13) to 26 points a season ago. He seemed to never gain confidence under former coach Andy Murray and couldn't gain his touch. And there was a lesson to be learned when the Swede was late for a practice as well. Berglund took the right steps this summer by staying in St. Louis to train and better prepare himself for the long haul, which caught the eye of Blues brass. Berglund needs to establish himself as this team's No. 2 center. The potential's there. It's a matter of maximizing that potential. It's season No. 3; time for the flower to begin to bloom.

Is the selection of Erik Johnson as an assistant captain a good decision?
In a word -- absolutely. This is a No. 1 overall pick and that carries clout on its own. But after missing out on an entire season with a knee injury, the 22-year-old Johnson has matured at a rapid rate and the coaches and management have taken notice. The team needs fresh, new voices to be heard and I believe Johnson fits the bill. His numbers a season ago (10-29=39 points) reflect just how much progression's taken place. I believe Johnson has the game for 20 goals and 50 points at the very least this season. This is a No. 1-type defenseman, and I feel like this is the year we'll all see that.

Is moving Andy McDonald back to center and David Backes to the wing best to unleash their full potential?
No doubt about it. Even though both players were able to excel playing out of position in my opinion, I feel like for this offense to click, McDonald must be used as a play-making center with speed and passing ability while Backes is more suited to use that big, strong body along the walls. Will McDonald lose some of the luster of scoring 24 goals a season ago? Maybe, but his assists will certainly pick up. But in the long run, I don't see a reason why McDonald can't score 20-plus goals again. Backes is the typical power forward, and he learned to play it from one of the best ever -- Keith Tkachuk. I believe Backes on the wing will get him back close to the career-best 31 goals he had in 2008-09. Kudos to Davis Payne and staff for doing what's best here. I still have no idea why Andy Murray was so fixated on these moves.

Which Blue needs to have a breakout year?
Pretty easy here: Berglund. If Berglund regresses at all, his leash could be very short.

Which Blue will have a breakout year?
This is a tough one, because I believe there are three or four that will have breakout years but I'm going to go with T.J. Oshie. I understand Oshie does so much in all facets of the game, but his potential unlimited. That's why I think going from 14 to 18 goals was important, but in the third season, I think he's able to get 25-plus and maybe 40 assists or so. Oshie is a terrific skater and agitates some of the best players in his own way (right Rick Nash?) that it's hard to ask him to do much more. But his skill is unparalleled. Watch out folks, his already growing stock will continue to soar.

Is Alex Pietrangelo ready to play in the NHL?
I believed aside from some strength issues, Pietrangelo was ready for the NHL immediately after being drafted. But as I've seen this young kid grow into a man at the ripe age of 20, this one is a no-brainer. Absolutely, unequivocally yes! The Blues say two spots are open on defense, but I think 'Petro' already has one of these locked up -- unless there is a total Titanic collapse in camp. He's taken both of his demotions back to juniors in stride, realizing the need to better equip himself to play at this level. Instead of pouting, he did what was asked and bettered himself both on and off the ice. Pietrangelo got rave reviews both at the World Juniors and at the Prospects' Tournament this past week. There was a quote from one scout who said he was "a man among boys." That speaks volumes right there. Blues fans will get to witness two high No. 1 picks on the ice together this season.

Is Jaroslav Halak ready to be a No. 1 goalie? Is he the one to carry this franchise in goal?
Yes, and yes. A lot has been judged regarding Halak and his playoff run last season. Questions have been raised whether he can sustain that kind of play and do it for an entire season. I believe the Blues did the right thing here. They took a chance and got someone who already has experienced more than some goalies do in a career. Do we expect Halak to play every single game like he did in last spring's playoffs? No, but there are signs there that this guy will only get better and better. After all, he's only 25. There's plenty of room to grow if he can get any better than what we saw last spring, watch out. There is also a very reliable and capable backup in Conklin.

Is Eric Brewer a good fit as this team's captain?
I understand this is a sore subject with lots of fans, but let me put this in perspective. The captain of a team doesn't necessarily have to be that team's best player. Brewer has been the target of heavy fan criticism since his arrival here five years ago. But understand this: I have not talked to one player (on or off the record) who told me Brewer should not be this team's captain. If a guy is that well-respected by his peers and who carries a positive voice in that team's locker room, who are we to question that? The players respect him, the coaches respect him and management respects the heck out of him. That's three hands-down check marks. Brewer has his teammates' attention when he speaks. That is all we need to know regarding his tenure with the 'C.' So with that being said, if his teammates endorse him, I don't see a reason why he shouldn't be.

Is David Perron capable of 30-goal seasons?
Yes. Perron has gone from 13 to 15 to 20 goals in his first three seasons. This is season No. 4, and I believe 30 goals is a reachable target for Perron. He's bulked up and is stronger than ever, worked religiously -- as his teammates have -- to be a more improved, polished player. Perron has the nose for the net and the play-making ability to net 30. Put the right linemates around him and see the results. They will be there.

Can Alex Steen duplicate last season; does he need to?
Yes, he can duplicate them. No, the Blues don't need him to carry the offensive load as long as some of the aforementioned do the job. Steen is a terrific two-way player that happened to strive on both ends of the ice a season ago. He also was rewarded with a role as assistant captain, and the players respect the heck out of him as well. So it was an easy decision for Payne to make. Steen's 24 goals and 23 assists were the icing on the cake. His play with Jay McClement and B.J. Crombeen as the team's top checking line was what was noticeable. And his play on the point during power play situations saved them from arguably being last in the league. If he can reach the 20-goal mark, that is very satisfactory for this team to have success.

Is Davis Payne the right man to coach this team?
I liked what I saw of Payne last season. The team responded to him at a time when it was at a crossroads and he got the proper responses out of veterans and young players alike. It's a fresh change and a new, younger and aspiring voice can only be a positive thing for a team looking to grow. He did a more than adequate job taking over for the older Andy Murray.

Is Ian Cole NHL-ready?
Many feel Cole is destined for Peoria this season, and if that's the case, it may be a one-year wonder. I've had some players privately tell me Cole is the real deal. And judging by what I've seen on video from his days in college and a couple games played last season with the Rivermen, this won't be a minor league player for long.

Where will the Blues finish in the West?
6th. I like their chances of getting back to the playoffs. Barring any injuries and at least some of the aforementioned players getting back to form, this will be a playoff team. The goaltending will be solid, defensively they'll be stingy and the offensive production will increase with another year under everyone's belts. For a change, the Blues will be buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline.

High goals, expectations await Blues as camp opens

New voices asked to carry torch for
team searching for return to playoffs

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Ready or not, the Blues have hit the ice and are ready to embark on another journey that they hope will lead to a playoff berth and beyond.

And for those familiar with the Blues of last season, there wasn't a whole lot of turnover. What it says is Blues management is banking on a large number of those very same players to make 2010-11 a better season and playing experience.

The biggest change is the voices in the room, particularly those of veterans Keith Tkachuk (retired), Paul Kariya (not resigned) and Darryl Sydor (retired). They are no longer around. The complexion has taken a grand makeover in that regard.

The oldest players in the room this season are going to be Ty Conklin (34), Andy McDonald (33) and Eric Brewer (31). In fact, they'll be the only thirty-something’s on the roster pending any changes.

The only significant acquisitions came in the form of trades for goaltender Jaroslav Halak and center Vladimir Sobotka, along with the addition of former Blue Scott Mellanby as an assistant coach on Davis Payne's staff. Doug Armstrong also comes on board as the team's general manager. Armstrong took the place of longtime GM Larry Pleau, who will remain with the Blues in some capacity.

The youth movement continues to push forward, but instead of grooming the youth, it's now their team. There will be some grooming still going on, it's time for the youth to rise up and lead the franchise in the present and into the future. It will be the voices of David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Erik Johnson, Alex Steen and others that need to compliment those of Barret Jackman, Brewer and McDonald.

"The players have now been given the opportunity. Now they have to perform," Armstrong said. "... The glass ceiling ... when you mentioned Paul or Walt, they didn't created that glass ceiling. They were certainly never an issue here. The respect that they got from our team was well-earned. They deserved everything they got here. I don't want anyone here to think they were ever an issue because they weren't. They were great players, great mentors, great leaders. Paul and Walt are a big part of what we're going to do going forward for the work they put in to get us to this point."

But now, it's up to the players the franchise has brought along to take those strides and get this team back to postseason play and eventually battle for a Stanley Cup.

The future is upon them.

"It's definitely different not having those guys around," said Steen, who has been awarded to be an assistant captain this season. "They're all going to be missed.

"Our goal is to make the playoffs, but I think the important thing for us is to realize what happened and why we missed out last year."

Count forward B.J. Crombeen among those that realize the importance of a collective voice being a recipe for success.

"Most of us have been through the league once and it's time we step up and quit looking at other people for that and taking care of it ourselves," Crombeen said. "Whether you have a guy over 1,000 games or a guy with 200 games as an assistant or captain, it really comes down to you taking control of your situation. We know we're professionals. We have to come every day ready to do it.

"Last year we didn't do that enough and that's why we finished out of the playoffs."

The Blues were on the ice Friday at the St. Louis Mills Ice Zone for on-ice endurance testing and will get on the ice with pucks for the first time Saturday morning. It's a time for players on the bubble to show what they've got and a time for those that continue to grow within the franchise to continue that climb up the ladder.

"If we meet our standard for the length of time required, we're going to have the success we're talking about," said Payne, who begins his first full season behind the Blues' bench. "To me, if we set expectations, you can set limits on yourself as well. Our expectations are daily, our standards are daily. If we meet those, we'll make progress daily and by the time we get to Game 82, we'll be where we want to be and we'll continue to progress from there. It's about meeting a standard to each other, it's about meeting a standard for the staff, it's about making sure we understand what level is required.

"(The players) have got to come in and stake a claim on exactly where they see themselves fitting into the lineup. ... These guys have to make those statements here and now in camp."

* NOTES -- Sobotka, acquired from Boston over the summer, went to see a doctor today regarding his injured shoulder and is expected to be sidelined another 10-14 days. ... Some of the endurance skills winners include Andy McDonald, T.J. Oshie, Chris Porter and Philip McRae.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 St. Louis Blues Training Camp Roster

42 David Backes RW 6-3 225 Minneapolis, Minnesota
72 Cody Beach RW 6-5 184 Kelowna, British Columbia
21 Patrik Berglund C 6-4 215 Vasteras, Sweden
22 Brad Boyes RW 6-0 200 Mississauga, Ontario
79 Adam Cracknell RW 6-2 207 Prince Albert, Saskatoon
26 B.J. Crombeen RW 6-2 210 Denver, Colorado
36 Matt D'Agostini RW 6-0 198 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
51 Stefan Della Rovere LW 5-11 200 Maple, Ontario
70 Chris DeSousa C 5-9 190 Mississauga, Ontario
47 Nick Drazenovic C 6-1 200 Prince George, British Columbia
77 T.J. Hensick C 5-10 185 Lansing, Michigan
55 Cam Janssen RW 6-0 215 St. Louis, Missouri
81 Stephen MacAuley LW 6-2 171 Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
80 Nick MacNeil LW 6-4 211 Cregnish, Nova Scotia
18 Jay McClement C 6-1 200 Kingston, Ontario
10 Andy McDonald C 5-10 190 Strathroy, Ontario
38 Philip McRae C 6-3 195 Minneapolis, Minnesota
52 Graham Mink RW 6-3 220 Stowe, Vermont
54 Anthony Nigro LW 6-0 187 Woodbridge, Ontario
74 T.J. Oshie LW 5-11 194 Everett, Washington
59 Anthony Peluso RW 6-4 234 North York, Ontario
57 David Perron LW 6-0 200 Sherbrooke, Quebec
32 Chris Porter LW 6-1 205 Toronto, Ontario
75 Ryan Reaves RW 6-2 220 Winnipeg, Manitoba
25 Dave Scatchard C 6-3 210 Hinton, Alberta
84 Tyler Shattock RW 6-3 200 Salmon Arm, British Columbia
17 Vladimir Sobotka C 5-10 183 Trebic, Czech Republic
76 Brett Sonne C 6-0 188 Maple Ridge, British Columbia
61 David Spina LW 5-10 185 Mesa, Arizona
20 Alex Steen LW 6-1 206 Winnipeg, Manitoba
15 Brad Winchester LW 6-5 231 Madison, Wisconsin
43 Dean Arsene 6-2 195 Murrayville, British Columbia
49 Daryl Boyle 6-1 200 Sparwood, British Columbia
4 Eric Brewer 6-3 220 Vernon, British Columbia
28 Carlo Colaiacovo 6-1 200 Toronto, Ontario
23 Ian Cole 6-1 220 Ann Arbor, Michigan
63 Mark Cundari 5-10 179 Woodbridge, Ontario
34 Brennan Evans 6-3 220 Camrose, Alberta
5 Barret Jackman 6-0 210 Trail, British Columbia
6 Erik Johnson 6-4 236 Bloomington, Minnesota
64 Nikita Nikitin 6-3 215 Omsk, Russia
37 Nathan Oystrick 6-0 215 Regina, Saskatchewan
27 Alex Pietrangelo 6-4 210 King City, Ontario
46 Roman Polak 6-1 225 Ostrava, Czech Republic
56 Brett Ponich 6-7 225 Edmonton, Alberta
58 David Shields 6-3 215 Buffalo, New York
33 Tyson Strachan 6-2 215 Melfort, Saskatchewan
1 Jake Allen 6-2 185 Fredericton, New Brunswick
30 Ben Bishop 6-7 210 Denver, Colorado
45 Gerald Coleman 6-5 210 Evanston, Illinois
29 Ty Conklin 6-1 190 Anchorage, Alaska
41 Jaroslav Halak 5-11 179 Bratislava, Slovakia

2010-11 St. Louis Blues training camp schedule

Friday, Sept. 17: On-Ice Testing (Group One) 9 a.m., (Group Two) 11:30 a.m. -- St. Louis Mills
Saturday, Sept. 18: Practice (Team Gold) 10 a.m., Practice (Team Blue) noon -- St. Louis Mills

Sunday, Sept. 19: Practice (Team Gold) 9 a.m., Warm Up (Both Teams) 10:20 a.m., Scrimmage (Gold vs. Blue) 10:30 a.m., Practice (Team Blue) 11:45 a.m. -- Scottrade Center
Monday, Sept. 20: Practice (Team Blue) 9 a.m., Practice (Team Gold) 11:15 a.m. -- Scottrade Center
Tuesday, Sept. 21: Practice (Team Blue) 10 a.m., Practice (Team Gold) 11:30 a.m., Blues vs. Colorado 7 p.m. -- Scottrade Center
Wednesday, Sept. 22: Practice (Team Gold) 10 a.m., Practice (Team Blue) 11:30 a.m. -- Scottrade Center; Blues at Minnesota 7 p.m. Xcel Energy Center
Thursday, Sept. 23: Practice (Team Blue) 9 a.m., Practice (Team Gold) 11:15 a.m. -- Scottrade Center
Friday, Sept. 24: Practice (Team Blue) 10 a.m., Practice (Team Gold) 11:30 a.m., Blues vs. Minnesota 7 p.m. -- Scottrade Center
Saturday, Sept. 25: Practice (Team Gold) 10 a.m., Practice (Team Blue) 11:30 a.m. -- Scottrade Center; Blues at Dallas 7 p.m. American Airlines Center
Sunday, Sept. 26: Practice (Team Gold) 10 a.m., Practice (Team Blue) 11:30 a.m. -- St. Louis Mills; Blues at Colorado 8 p.m. Pepsi Center
Monday, Sept. 27: Practice (All players) 10:30 a.m. -- St. Louis Mills
Tuesday, Sept. 28: Practice (All players) 10:30 a.m. -- St. Louis Mills
Wednesday, Sept. 29: Practice (All players) 10:30 a.m. -- St. Louis Mills

NOTE -- Practices are open to the public on the following dates: Sept. 17, 18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29