By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Both of Brad Boyes’ grandmothers have dealt with cancer. B.J. Crombeen lost a grandmother because of cancer while both of his grandfathers survived the disease. Alex Steen saw a cousin deal with it.
In some form or another, everyone knows someone or has seen a family member either deal with cancer and survived it or lost a relative because of the deadly disease.
All forms of cancer are modern medicine's challenges. And the Blues are doing whatever it takes to either improve awareness or do their part to contribute financially.
The Blues are celebrating Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month and will host a pair of special nights tonight and Saturday.
Tonight's game against Chicago will feature Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night and will be held in celebration of Mandi Schwartz, sister of 2010 Blues' first-round draft pick Jaden Schwartz. Mandi Schwartz received a bone marrow stem cell transplant in September.
On Saturday when the Blues host the Pittsburgh Penguins, it will be the fourth annual Pink at the Rink, which benefits the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (St. Louis affiliate).
The Blues took the ice at the morning skate today with the majority of them wearing pink laces on their skates in honor of cancer awareness. They will wear them with their uniforms tonight when they face the Blackhawks.
"Almost everybody is touched in one way or another through cancer, whether it's any type of it or any form," Boyes said. "It brings awareness. I know other sports do it. Football is big into it. Hockey does a lot of it as well. It's a really positive thing to do.
"... The pink has become a symbolic color. People see it and people know what it's about, which is good. It's because other teams and other sports have been actively promoting it. People watch on TV and see guys do it and they see how the relationship comes from it."
Cancer research and the battles that come with it have come such a long way, and awareness and modern treatments are a big reason why more and more cases are being detected at early stages.
The players feel whatever they can do, they're certainly on board.
"We're trying to do our part to raise awareness and to be supportive of the cause," Steen said. "If it's laces or tape or whatever we can do, we're happy to do it."
Added Crombeen, "Anything we can do to support it, I think guys are no doubt on board with it. It's easy to do, it's fun and it's for a great cause. It's kind of a no-brainer. You come to the rink, you're excited to do it and help in any way you can."
However, seeing the pink on the black skates leaves a bit of a fashion faux pas.
"I've never worn hot pink laces before," Boyes said with a laugh. "Growing up, you always had that one kid who's tried it. It actually looks alright."
Steen took his fashion statement a step further and used pink tape at the top of his stick.
"If I find a goal, I'll probably use the pink all year," Steen joked.
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Speaking of Steen, he was asked this morning if he feels like the five-game goal-less drought is bothering him in any way.
Not in the least, the winger said. Steen has three assists in five games thus far after tying with Andy McDonald for the team lead in goals a season ago with 24.
"I've hit a few posts. I've seen a couple pucks that have barely touched a goalie and gone wide," Steen said. "You hit a stick, I hit Bergy's (Patrik Berglund's) stick once and it looked like it was going in. As long as I'm getting looks, I'm not too worried about it. I've had a lot of good opportunities. One of these games, I'm going to pop one in and hopefully it rolls from there.
"I thought we've been playing pretty well with our line. I've been playing pretty consistent. We just need to find the balance of going to the offense and the defense part of it like we did last year."
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The Blues (2-1-2) will face the Blackhawks (5-2-1) just four days after squandering a 2-0 lead with just under seven minutes to play in Chicago.
The lineup will feature:
David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Patrik Berglund-Brad Boyes
Alex Steen-Jay McClement-Matt D'Agostini
Brad Winchester-Vladimir Sobotka-B.J. Crombeen
D-pairings will have:
Eric Brewer-Roman Polak
Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo
Carlo Colaiacovo-Erik Johnson
Tyson Strachan will be a healthy scratch for the fifth time in six games.
Jaroslav Halak (2-1-1) will make his fifth start in six games. He stopped 30 shots in the loss Monday.
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The Hawks come in riding a four-game winning streak, including a 2-1 shootout victory over Vancouver on Wednesday.
Chicago's lineup features:
Tomas Kopecky-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Troy Brouwer-Patrick Sharp-Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell-Dave Bolland-Fernando Pisani
Viktor Stalberg-Jake Dowell-Jack Skille
D-pairings will pit:
Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson-Nick Boynton
Jassen Cullimore-John Scott
Marty Turco, who stopped 32 shots in beating the Blues Monday, will get the nod in goal.
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