Friday, October 13, 2017


Dunn's first goal dream-come-true, celebration subdued however; Thompson 
assigned to San Antonio, Blais recalled; Prosser awaits his opportunity

TAMPA, Fla. -- Vince Dunn had the perfect scenario played out in his mind for that time to celebrate his first NHL goal.

"Probably we're winning and I can do a little bit of celly-ing," Dunn said Friday after getting his first NHL goal on Thursday at Florida. "Maybe a bigger smile after."

But nope. Can't happen, didn't happen that way.

Not in a 5-2 loss to the Panthers, and not when it came with 1 minute, 9 seconds of a 5-1 game at the time.

No celly-ing, no choreographed moves. Just be happy, get the puck and move on.

"Just trying to keep my emotions intact," Dunn said. "At the time of the game, we're down by three after I score. It's the end of the game, try not to be too happy and too anxious but a good feeling to get that first one.

"Maybe not the exact vision I had for my first goal, but a dream come true. It was a pretty special feeling getting that first one under my belt. It's tough to be super, super happy in the moment when the team's so down like that. We were struggling to find ways to get the puck to the net. For myself, it was a proud moment for me and getting that first one out of the way is a big step forward."

Teammate Chris Thorburn went and retrieved that memento for Dunn, the Blues' 2015 second-round pick, and it will go where?

"Maybe I'll frame it at home, put it on my dresser," Dunn said. "I want to keep that puck forever. It's something that every kid dreams of, playing that first NHL game, getting that first goal out of the way. It's a dream come true."

It was not only Dunn's first goal in the NHL but his first point. An offensive defenseman known for joining the rush and getting into plays, Dunn has been on the learning curve through the first five games of his NHL career.

Coach Mike Yeo has trusted Dunn, 20, to play every game and with the utmost trust to utilize him in most scenarios.

"I think it's a combination, to be honest with you. Obviously what you're hoping for with the young players is you start building more consistency and you start building onto their game," Yeo said. "We all have strengths and weaknesses. You're trying to improve on the weaknesses and you're trying to have the strengths come out and show themselves more frequently. I think the last few games, we've seen that. 

"His defensive game has been solid. It's going to be a new test for him tomorrow (against the Tampa Bay Lightning), a different type of game, much more speed. Execution, skill on the ice. Defensively, he's going to have to be real sharp. For me, the last three games, what I've liked is he's found a way to get involved and impact the game and show his strengths in the offensive side of things, and that's why he's in the lineup."

Dunn, who said his phone blew up with calls and text messages Thursday night, saw the opportunity to make a play when he got the puck at center ice, dashed his way into the Panthers' zone and beat future Hall of Fame goalie Roberto Luongo high glove side.

"I had a couple chances near the end, thought I was finding a lot of jump in my game in the third period," Dunn said. "We were down by a few so I was thinking if I miss this one, it's not a big deal, but just trying to take advantage of the opportunity, use the D as a screen and just ended up working in my favor.

"Phone was blowing up probably more than my first NHL game. A lot of support from my friends, family, coaches. I've been fortunate to have a lot of support over these years, a lot of kind words said for me from the other people."

* Thompson assigned to San Antonio, Blais recalled -- After being a healthy scratch for the first time Thursday, 2016 first-round pick Tage Thompson was assigned to San Antonio of the American Hockey League, and the Blues recalled forward Samuel Blais from the Rampage.

Thompson did not register a point and was a minus-3 in his four games with the Blues after making the 23-man roster out of training camp.

But simply playing a third-line role in the 10-12 minute range as opposed to going to San Antonio, developing his game and getting more pro games in playing top-six forward minutes is more beneficial for the 19-year-old's development.

"We couldn't be happier with him and his potential," Yeo said of Thompson. "Just extremely excited for what he's going to bring for us. For us, this is just a situation, an opportunity to get him down, get him reps in the offensive situations that he needs. He's got all the qualities that we're looking for to be one of those top two line offensive power forwards in the NHL. His shot, his puck control, the way he thinks, the way he skates. Just getting him in those situations, it's going to be huge for his game.

"There's nothing but positives for Tage right now. He's had a tremendous camp, did a real great job. It's hard to play in your first couple games in the NHL and he came in and helped contribute to some wins. There's nothing but positives on our side. Obviously when he was in the lineup for us, he wasn't getting the big minutes, he was not playing in the top two lines. We're not trying to develop a third- or a fourth-liner with Tage. We want to make sure that he gets the reps in the offensive situations that he needs."

Blais, who was a surprise cut out of camp after an impressive showing for the 2014 sixth-round pick, had three goals and one assist in two games with the Rampage and quickly gets the call and could make his NHL debut here at Amalie Arena against the Lightning on Saturday, the same place where Wade Megan (last season) and Jaden Schwartz (2012) made their NHL debuts.

The Blues are sorely lacking in offensive production from their third and fourth lines, but if Blais plays, look for it to be with Schwartz and Brayden Schenn, two linemates he played with in the preseason.

"Sammy had a tremendous camp and it was an extremely difficult decision (to cut him)," Yeo said. "We knew he wasn't going to factor or get into the lineup the first few games. You never want young kids sitting around not playing, and so we felt that it would be good and obviously it was for him to go down to the American League, you look at what he did the first couple games. Anxious to get him back."

* Prosser waits his turn -- Veteran defenseman Nate Prosser has been in this unenviable position before.

And he knows it all too well.

Prosser, who the Blues signed to a two-year, two-way contract Aug. 2 to add experience to the blue line, has yet to appear in a game for his new team.

Prosser and newly-recalled Blais are the only players to not have suited up for a game this season, but Blais is likely to play Saturday, and Prosser?

Well ... 

"You're in the NHL because you're a competitor," he said after practice Friday at Amalie Arena. "You want to be in, but at the same time, like I've always said in the past, I've been in this position for the past handful of years. It's not anything new to me, I know what I need to do when I come to the arena, to come with a smile on my face and be a positive teammate. A lot of things are out of my control. Whether I'm in the lineup or not, that's out of my control. What's in my control is coming in here and being a good teammate, working hard in practice, in the weight room, making sure I'm doing everything mentally and when my number's called, I'm ready to go. And whenever my number's called, whenever that's going to be, I'll be ready to rock. 

"A part of my game is I can sit for however long, whatever the time period is. When my number's called, I don't miss a beat. I'm jumping in and I'm helping the team, contributing in the ways that I can and helping the team have success."

Prosser, 31, played in 39 games for the Minnesota Wild last season and had two goals and five assists; he has 282 games of regular-season experience in parts of eight seasons in Minnesota before the Wild decided not to bring him back, thus enabling Prosser to reunite with Yeo, who coached Prosser for parts of six seasons.

"A lot of things are out of my control and I just want to do what's in my control," Prosser said. "The team's having success. I can't be a guy that comes in here and pouts or is a bad guy. I want to be that guy that's easy to approach, smiling, being a good teammate and if that's what my role is right now, then that's my role. Just kind of got to wait for my opportunity and when it comes, I want to be ready to roll and I will be."

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