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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:58 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Projected Lineups: Detroit Red Wings at St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Here are the opening night lineups for Saturday's game between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues from Scottrade Center:

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Andy McDonald - Alex Steen - Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Vladimir Sobotka - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak gets the opening start in goal; Brian Elliott is the backup.

The Blues have no injuries. Healthy scratches include wingers Matt D'Agostini and Jamie Langenbrunner as well as defenseman Jeff Woywitka.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Bertuzzi could be sidelined for a month

ST. LOUIS -- The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi longer than expected.

Bertuzzi, who has been nursing a groin injury, will miss up to a month with mononucleosis.

"Bert's got mono," Red wings coach Mike Babcock said Saturday. "When we talked to him [Friday], we knew something was wrong. He's got mono, so he's going to [miss] a chunk of time."

Asked if it will be weeks, Babcock replied: "Oh yeah, for sure. Probably."

Bertuzzi, who turns 38 on Feb. 2, could go on injured reserve, which would clear a spot for injured Darren Helm (back) to return.

Bertuzzi has 751 points in 1,093 career games.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Colaiacovo excited for return to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- A familiar face will sit on the visitors bench tonight, as Carlo Colaiacovo, who was a staple on the St. Louis Blues' defensive unit for four seasons, will wear the Winged Wheel.

Colaiacovo, who became an unrestricted free agent this summer, was not brought back by the Blues and signed a two-year, $5-million contract with the archrival Detroit Red Wings.

Colaiacovo, 29, arrived at the arena Saturday morning and had to remind himself where he needed to be.

"Actually, I got locked out when I came in," Colaiacovo quipped. "I didn't know where to go. I'm still used to being a home player here. I didn't know where the visiting teams were supposed to go.

"I've seen a lot of familiar faces and it brings back a lot of good memories. I obviously still have a lot of great friends on that team. I saw them last night and saw them again this morning. A lot of mixed emotions going through me today. The adrenaline's going to be rushing through me tonight. I know that the crowd's going to be rocking. It's a new opportunity for me, a fresh start. I'm looking forward to making the most of it."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:43 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Blues' Tarasenko ready for NHL debut

ST. LOUIS -- The look in Vladimir Tarasenko's eyes said it all.

The St. Louis Blues' 2010 first-round draft pick is feeling like a kid in a candy store, excited to be realizing a dream. On the other hand, when the 21-year-old steps onto the ice for his first National Hockey League game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight (7 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), the nerves will be fast and furious.

"I'm very excited because this is my dream. It's a dream come true," Tarasenko said at the morning skate. "I'm a little bit nervous because this is my first game in the National Hockey League. I never thought I would get here."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Blues ready to face Lidstrom-less Red Wings

ST. LOUIS -- The defending Central Division champion St. Louis Blues will face a still formidable Detroit Red Wings team Saturday, even though they will be opening a season without the great Nicklas Lidstrom for the first time since 1991.

"It's the Detroit Red Wings, so it just looks the same to us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They just fill in the gaps.

"Everyone thought when (Steve) Yzerman left, it was going to be all over and they did just fine. I'll reserve judgment until we see how they look without him in there. To me, they know how to play the game the right way."

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Posted On Friday, 07.20.2012 / 12:45 AM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Oshie signs five-year deal with Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues and T.J. Oshie avoided an arbitration hearing Friday after agreeing to a five-year, $20.875 million contract late Thursday night.

The 25-year-old Oshie, who is coming off of career highs in goals (19), assists (35), points (54) and games played (80), was a restricted free agent who made $2.35 million on a one-year contract in 2011-12. He was the Blues' first-round pick (No. 24) in the 2005 NHL Draft. His 54 points were tied for the team lead last season.

"We're obviously excited to have T.J. under contract as he enters the prime of his career and to know that we'll have him through that portion," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "It's very rewarding and we think he's a big piece of our team from last year and he's a big piece moving forward."

St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who is coming off a 54-point season, avoided arbitration Friday by signing a five-year deal with the club. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Blues and Oshie were set to have an arbitration hearing Friday at 10 a.m. ET, when both sides would have presented their respective cases for a contract, which would be either a one- or two-year term of the team's choice. A deal between the two sides at some point leading up to the hearing always seemed like the most likely end result.

"Arbitration is just a tool that both sides have available to them," Armstrong said. "It's just a piece of the process. We exchange briefs and we get an idea where each side is coming from. I think everyone's comfortable with the business side of it that you try not to have any hangover of emotion based on an arbitration hearing.

"We knew today at 9 a.m. (CT), we were going to put T.J.'s fate in someone else's hands and we both decided it was best to try and see if we can work out something together."

After playing in only 49 games during a 2010-11 season that included some off-ice issues, the Blues gave Oshie a one-year deal to prove himself. Oshie proved worthy of a long-term commitment with a solid season that helped the Blues to the second-most points in franchise history with 109. Adding veteran coach Ken Hitchcock also was a catalyst in Oshie's success.

"We certainly thought he had a good, productive season last year," Armstrong said of Oshie. "A lot of the things that we were looking for as far as consistency on the ice, the ability to play 80 games was there. I also think with the coaching change, I think he embraced the new coach and someone with Ken's experience obviously he became a valuable player for our franchise with the amount of ice time he got. He and David Backes mirror each other. We know what David means to our team, so I just felt knowing Ken was here and knowing what T.J. means to the team and how he's coached by Ken just made it a natural movement to get him signed for a longer term as possible and we were able to do that."

Add this contract to the recent signing of David Perron to a four-year deal, and the Blues now have a good portion of their core group under contract for the long term. Defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk will be restricted free agents after the 2012-13 season and are likely the next targets for long-term deals.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 11:30 AM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Kings series blog

Hitchcock rules Halak out for rest of series

ST. LOUIS -- Not only did the St. Louis Blues lose the first two games on home ice in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings, but coach Ken Hitchcock ruled after Game 2 that goalie Jaroslav Halak would not be available for the remainder of the series.

Halak, who started for the Blues when the playoffs began, has a lower-body injury that he suffered in Game 2 of the conference quarterfinals against San Jose when he collided with teammate Barret Jackman early in the second period.

Halak has been skating off and on by himself ever since and before the series with the Kings began, Hitchcock ruled Halak out for Games 1 and 2 and said they would "go from there" as the series progressed.

Hitchcock was asked at the end of his post-game press conference Monday night if Halak would be available for Game 3 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"No," Hitchcock replied.

Asked if he would be available as a backup, the coach said before departing, "No … Jaro's out for the series. He won't play in the series."

So the Blues will move forward with Brian Elliott, who allowed five goals on 21 shots in Game 2, as the starter and rookie Jake Allen as the backup.

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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 2:54 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Kings series blog

D'Agostini in as Blues make lineup changes

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will make a couple changes to their lineup heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Coach Ken Hitchcock has decided to flip his top two centers for tonight's game, meaning David Backes will now be between Andy McDonald and Alex Steen, while Patrik Berglund will once again join David Perron and T.J. Oshie.

Also, Matt D'Agostini will replace Chris Stewart in the lineup on the third line.

When asked what he's looking for, Hitchcock said, "More o-zone time, better o-zone play, more tenacity on the puck, more reckless. We've made the switch before short-term and it's worked.

"We just feel like we need a different energy. I just think for us to win the series ... they're a big team, they're a physical, big team, and we need to play with more tempo, more speed throughout our lineup. This allows us to play that way the way it's built. With switching the lines there with D'Agostini, it gives us more speed. We just want to see how it looks because for me, they're a team that wears you down. We need to make them spend more time in their zone more than they want."

Oshie, Perron and Berglund are no strangers to playing together. They're Blues first-round draft picks who came up through the organization together and are close as well off the ice.

"There's going to be a lot of energy," Oshie said. "We've been through a lot together away from the rink, at the rink. We've been here from the start for all of us ... Perry was here a year earlier, but it seems like we all kind of grew up together and we've got this sense of closeness.

"... We've got those young legs, as Walt [Keith Tkachuk] used to say. I think we compliment each other well. I need to bring more intensity and as much intensity as I can into those two; try to carry it along with me, because when both of them have their feet moving, they're hard to stop."

D'Agostini has only dressed in one postseason game [Game 2 of the first round against San Jose] and is looking forward to providing a boost.

"Just go out there, try to get involved early and get into the game as quick as possible," D'Agostini said. "... Any time after a loss, a change could spark the guys.

"It's been tough watching. You know you always feel like you can contribute. Me personally, I feel like I can help this team win. I'm happy to be back in there and looking forward to tonight."

Hitchcock said it's nothing against Stewart, who's pointless in five playoff games.

"I'm not unhappy with Stewy at all," Hitchcock said. "I think he's been fine for me, but we just feel like we would like to play with more speed in our lineup ... number one, and number two is we want to have a different look on one of the power-play units and that's where Dags excels. ... We'd like to see him get some PP time if we get there. He's very effective at where he goes. He's a guy that's willing to stand in there and absorb the shot."

With Backes, it gives him a different perspective with two more skill guys and he can continue to be more responsible defensively.

"Those guys are supremely talented and I'm hoping to be a supporting piece to it, take care of the defensive zone and let their offensive instincts and their skill show up," Backes said of McDonald and Steen. "If we can do that, those guys will have great nights and we'll have a great night as a team."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 2:51 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Kings series blog

Blues and Kings ready for new challenge

ST. LOUIS -- Both the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings are perfect on the road in these playoffs, but for the Blues, they have home ice and were one of the best teams at Scottrade Center this season with a 30-5-6 regular season record and two wins and an overtime loss against San Jose in the first round.

But the Kings won all three games at Rogers Arena against the Vancouver Canucks, who won the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's regular-season champions.

"We were a pretty confident group going in," Brown said of the road success. "I think a lot of players have been in this room for a while, have been playing together for a while.

"We understood the situation we were in and we understand the type of team we have. Knocking off the top seed Vancouver obviously adds a little bit of confidence, but I think we all understand that St. Louis is a different type of beast and it's going to be a hard series.

"They're just a different team than Vancouver. We found a way to be successful against Vancouver and now it's a new challenge. There's different things that we have to do to be successful against the Blues. A lot of it comes down to work. That's the one thing you can control, which is a good thing. To beat a team like St. Louis, you've got to be willing to do all those little things on every single play."

The Blues hope to be as relentless as the Kings are advertising them to be.

"Just a strong defensive game like we had all year and in the San Jose series," defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We're going to really have to work for our chances, throw everything we can on net and get second chances. It's going to be predictable hockey from both sides, a hard-fought series and it's going to start right from the first drop of the puck."

Added veteran center Jason Arnott: "We just can't get out of our element. We have to stick to our system. You can't get frustrated, that's the biggest thing. We know we're going up against a great defense and a great goaltender. They play a solid defensive game. It's going to be tough and frustration's going to creep in here or there, but we just have to stick to our system and play to our game plan and keep funneling pucks as much as we can and hopefully a few go in for us."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 2:03 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Kings series blog

Players eager to get started

ST. LOUIS -- As has been the case all week, both the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings are eager and anxious to begin their playoff series.

There's only so much the respective teams can do in practice and only so much a team can do to simulate what their opponent is going to do.

From a rest standpoint, getting a week off for St. Louis and six days off for L.A. was a blessing. But from a game standpoint, since both teams went 4-1 in their first-round series, players remain cautious about any rust that may have developed during that time off.

"You look at Nashville last night, they came out a little slow," Blues winger Chris Stewart said. "We've definitely got to get out there and get on our toes and take it to them. We have to show why we can use home ice advantage."

Added Blues winger Andy McDonald: "We've had some rest, a lot of practice and it gives you a lot more time. We knew before they did when we would be playing and who we'd be playing against. It gives guys a little bit more time to recover, we've got some bumps and bruises but I think we're ready to go. It's been kind of a long layoff. I think guys are pretty anxious."

The Kings agreed.

"You want to play. You watch games on TV," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Getting some rest obviously is important. Both teams had ample time to get ready, both physically and mentally. Guys are ready to go now."

Added Kings center Mike Richards: "I don't think there's much of a process. I think you just get excited. A week looking at tape, a week of practicing... it doesn't take much to get out there and you feel the excitement.

"Coming here this morning, I think there's a lot of excitement. Finally gameday's come. I don't think there's going to be much of an amping-up process."

Watching the Predators and Phoenix Coyotes Friday night definitely made players eager to get started.

"It's been a long week," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "There's been a lot of practice, a lot of things that we've gone over but at the same time, we're excited to get this thing going and jump into it. Watching the game last night gives you that itch to get things started."
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Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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