Friday, October 15, 2021


Perron questionable for opener; Blues leave Vail behind; Landeskog 
out, MacKinnon questionable for Avs; time to put the past in the past

ST. LOUIS -- Things were going good for the Blues on the injury front as they prepare for their long-awaited season opener on Saturday.

But on the eve of opening against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, it was disclosed that last year's leading point scorer, David Perron, is questionable for the game.

Perron did not skate on Friday in Vail, Colo. before the Blues headed east to Denver to face the Avalanche (1-0-0).

"More maintenance that anything," Blues coach Craig Berube said without identifying whether there is an upper- or lower-body injury. "We'll see tomorrow, OK. That's really all I can give you right now."

When asked if Perron's status was in question for the game, Berube simply said, "Yes."
Klim Kostin skated in Perron's spot at practice, usually an indication of a place holder, but it would be a hard pill if Perron, who led the Blues with 58 points in 56 games last season, could not play.

"It would be obviously tough," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "It's just the first game, but hey, that's the nature of our game. We're going to see injuries throughout the year. If that's just the way that it goes, then that's the way it goes and I think for us as a group, we've got to focus with the guys that are going into the game. That's all that we can do is focus on the personnel and make sure that we're ready. Obviously great player. Tough void to fill, but as far as that goes, we've just got to step up. It gives guys opportunities to step up. Hopefully he's feeling better and we can have him tomorrow."

Perron, who was second in goals last season with 19 behind Ryan O'Reilly's 24, also missed the Blues' first round playoff series against Colorado last season, a series the Avalanche swept in the best-of-7 series.

"Obviously he's a big part of our team, but it's time where guys got to step up and work for each other," Blues goalie Jordan Binnington said of Perron. "I think we've got the lineup to do that. We obviously would love to have him in and we'll see tomorrow."

* It's been fun, Vail -- The Blues left for their season opening three-game trip on Monday to spend some time together, heading to the vacation resort of Vail to spend quality time together as well as get acclimated to the altitude.

Players got to take in some fishing, golfing amid the cooler temperatures as well as get to go to dinners as a group, many of the things that were not available to them during unprecedented times the past season and a half.

"Good time, good people in Vail," Binnington said. "Took good care of us. Just beautiful scenery, the mountains. It's like every time you walk outside, it's like you're in a movie kind of. It's cool for me to see coming from where I'm from not seeing that every day. It's been a good experience and at the same time, we're ready to get started."

"It was really good," Parayko said. "I really enjoyed my time. Just nice to be here with the team. Practices were good. A little altitude, which was not so fun maybe, but practices were great. The whole trip was great. A lot of team bonding, some team dinners, just spending some time with the team before we get going. It was great."

They were on the ice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on the ice in Vail.

"I thought they were really good," Berube said of the skates. "Today was more special teams and stuff like that. I thought that we got with what we needed to. Overall the time spent here with practices were excellent. I think it was great getting the guys away and together for a bit. It was real productive, I thought."

The Blues will be one of the last teams to play and just want to get going at this point. There will be teams that will drop the puck for their third game before the Blues play their first.

"We were all sitting there Tuesday watching the hockey games," Parayko said. "I think that was like, 'OK, we all want to get rolling too.' Now that it's Friday, we're even more excited. We're just happy hockey's back and we're excited to be on the road, back at home soon and just to get the season going."

* Shorthanded Avs? -- Not only are the Blues wondering if they'll have one of their top players, but the Avalanche will be without their captain on Saturday and arguably their best player.

Gabriel Landeskog will miss the game after he was suspended for two games Thursday for boarding Chicago's Kirby Dach on Wednesday. Also, Nathan MacKinnon, who missed their 4-2 win against the Blackhawks, could miss after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
MacKinnon, who had 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) in 48 games last season and torched the Blues with nine points (six goals, three assists) in that first-round series last year, needs to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days or produce two negative COVID tests before returning.

"That doesn't matter to me. This team is a real good team," Berube said of Colorado. "I watched the Chicago game and they basically just came out and they were way more ready and on their toes and forechecked hard. They're a good team no matter what. We can't look at who's in the lineup and who's out of the lineup. If you're not on your toes and you're not aggressive and you're not ready to battle right away, they'll put you in a bad spot. That's what I thought with Chicago. We need to be ready to go from the get go. Puck drop, we need to be on our toes, we need to be aggressive, we need to be heavy right away."

"They're obviously two good players, but they still have a very good team," Parayko said. "No game is easy even if you're missing certain players. Teams are just that good, players in the NHL are that good that they can make things happen at any time. Just got to make sure we come prepared and I think it's on us to bring our 'A' game and not really focus on who they got in their lineup, bring what we got and make sure it's our best."

* The past is the past, or is it? -- The Blues will play their first meaningful game since getting bounced by the Avalanche in May. Do they remember it, or move past it?

Colorado outscored the Blues 20-7 in the series.

"You remember stuff, stuff sticks with you, but it's a new season," Binnington said.

"I think it's always you look at that they beat us four straight," Berube said. 'We have an opportunity to go play them tomorrow night and get a little redemption maybe on them. But that's in the past. This is the present. I'd rather just focus on the present right now. We've got a different team. You should have a bad feeling in your gut from last year still."

The Blues are expected to have new players in the lineup that weren't part of that sweep, including Pavel Buchnevich, James Neal and possibly Kostin if Perron doesn't play. 
Brandon Saad wasn't with the Blues last season but he was part of that series, as a member of the Avalanche.

"You obviously never really forget what happened in the past, but it's in the past," Parayko said. "I think it's on us to get a fresh start to the season, just put that behind us. They obviously have a very good team. We have a little rivalry kind of going here, so I think the best thing is focusing on having a good start to the season, putting a good game together and a good foundation to build from."

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