Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blues thump Stars 6-0 behind Steen, Stastny, Tarasenko

Top line now with 14 points in two 
preseason games; Elliott earns shutout with 22 saves

ST. LOUIS -- It's preseason, yes, but the chemistry for Blues forwards Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko is undeniable.

The trio was at it again Thursday, combining for seven points, giving it 14 in two games as the Blues defeated the Dallas Stars 6-0 in preseason play at Scottrade Center.

Stastny, whose wife Haley recently delivered the couple's first child, and Tarasenko led the way with two goals and one assist each.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alexander Steen (20) and Paul Stastny (26) helped the Blues defeat the
Dallas Stars 6-0 Thursday night.

In the two games the line has played, both in home ice, Tarasenko leads the way with three goals and three assists, Stastny has three goals and one assist and Steen has one goal ad three assists.

"It's been good," Stastny said. "I think from the start of camp we've been together, even like the practices. That means a lot. I feel like last year, it was switched up with all different wingers. Sometimes you're going to have that with younger guys, but you want to stick with the guys you're going to play with, playing from the first practice to the games. 

"Every day's gone a little better and better. I've started getting used to playing with 'Tank,' and 'Tank's' started getting used to playing with us. You can make plays and sometimes, it's finding the open spot for him to find us and try to get it back to him. With me and 'Steener' not playing too often with him last year, when you play with good players like that, it's easy. All the guys want the puck, all the guys battle for the puck if we don't have it. If we do turn it over, which we did a couple times, we back-checked ad not gave up much and that's the most important thing."

The trio will not travel with the Blues to Chicago and face the Blackhawks Saturday but coach Ken Hitchcock said the group will "probably" play in the final two preseason games.

"It's hard for them to keep their interest two games in a row, but when they're alert and when they're sharp, they're strong," Hitchcock said. "They're strong because they all three can play 1-on-1. They all have patience with the puck, they read off each other. 

"Can you play like that for 60 minutes? That's going to be the challenge. If you make a mistake against them, it's in the net. They don't need a lot of shots to score; they bury the puck. It's good to see."

Communication seems to be the most important job moving forward. There was a play in the game in which Tarasenko tried to snap a quick pass to Stastny, who wasn't looking and it failed to make connection. Both immediately skated to the other to talk about it on a whim.

"I think we both know we're trying the same play and sometimes it's just a miscue," Stastny said. "I think that's all that matters. Sometimes it's going to happen and you're going to just misread each other. If you get the idea where one guy's going and what he's trying to do, in games like this, a lot of the same things happen throughout the year, throughout the game. The next time that happens, we'll be ready."

Ty Rattie and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists Thursday, and Rattie, one of the younger players trying to make an impression to make the team, said it's a full-blown battle for the remaining spots that are open.

"Guys are doing their best to make a good impression," Rattie said. "I thought it was a good all-around team game and it showed on the scoreboard tonight.

"It's going to be an offensive lethal squad. It's exciting. I think watching that top line, I'm just learning from them every shift and it's very cool. I've been learning from them off the ice also. It's been good so far."

Brian Elliott was sharp with a 22-save shutout.

Defensemen Petteri Lindbohm and Joel Edmundson each scored their first preseason goals and are part of a cast looking to make that favorable impression.

"The kids are," Hitchcock said. "Starting in Chicago, we'll get the evaluations on now how we want to build our team. The next three games will give us that evaluation because everybody's playing that nine or 10 pros. Now you're going to move up where it's 14, 15, 16 pros, so we'll get a real good evaluation, get a better evaluation on the kids. 

"When you're playing half a roster, those three D's, (Robby) Fabbri, Rattie had a good game today. They've held their own. Next step is now you've got to play against a lot of NHL players, which is what we're looking for, but they've held their own so far."

For Stastny, it was time to get home to his wife and daughter, who  came home for the first time Wednesday.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brian Elliott makes one of his 22 saves in a shutout victory against the 
Dallas Stars on Thursday.

"It's been good," Stastny said. "Last night was the first night they came home. She actually slept great, but I think the first night home with a child, my wife and I were sitting there with one eye open veering down just in case. Just her breathing we're like, 'Oh, is she crying?' 

"You just get used to it. I think she's more paranoid about keeping me up all night. I'm like, 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I've got naps the next day.' Everyone's doing well, and that's all you can ask for."

When does the baby get to see her daddy play for the first time? Time will tell.

"We're trying to go to the Taylor Swift concert, but now, she came a little later than we thought so she might not be ready for that," Stastny joked. "We'll try bringing her opening night."

* NOTES -- The Blues signed 2015 second-round pick Vince Dunn to a three-year, entry-level contract on Thursday.

Dunn, who had 18 goals and 56 points in 68 regular season games last season, was reassigned to the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League on Wednesday but he had an impressive run at training camp as well as a strong tournament with the prospects at Traverse City.

Dunn had 10 points in eight playoff games with the Ice Dogs last season.

. . . Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo joined practice earlier on Thursday in hopes of shaking off the nagging injury that's bugged him thoughout camp.

"It's just lingering from back home," Bortuzzo said. "Little frustrating, but it's something you want to kind of take care of before we get into the season here. Nothing series, just kind of been lingering. There's nothing I'd rather be doing than out there playing right now, but like I said, it's something you've got to take care of."

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