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Posted On Saturday, 02.08.2014 / 12:24 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Jackman to play in 700th game against Jets

ST. LOUIS -- At the time, Barret Jackman's first NHL game in 2002 may have felt like a blur. But it's a day the 32-year-old will never forget.

Jackman confirmed as much as he prepared to play in his 700th regular season NHL game this afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets. It's a major milestone for the veteran of 11 pro seasons, all with the St. Louis Blues

Jackman's stat line for that April 14, 2002 day against the Detroit Red Wings didn't come with any goals or assists. But looking across from his left defensive position and seeing Hall-of-Famer Al MacInnis would make any player feel in awe.

"Having played with Al my first year, I learned so much," said Jackman, who played 18:26 that night with one shot and two penalty minutes. "I was a lucky rookie defensemen that got to play with one of the greatest defensemen to ever come through here."

Jackman will reach the 700-game milestone Saturday when the Blues (38-12-6) play their last game before the 2014 Sochi Olympics against the red-hot Jets (28-26-5).

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.04.2014 / 2:50 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues, Hitchcock focused on points

ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues played the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 16 it was the start of what eventually turn out to be an 11-game absence for Alexander Steen.

The Blues' leading scorer would play in two more games following the Senators' 3-2 overtime victory, but it was a hit 24 seconds into the game by Ottawa center Zack Smith that ultimately led to Steen's concussion, an injury that sidelined the Blues left wing for nearly a month. Smith was penalized two minutes for an illegal check to the head but no further discipline was handed down by the NHL.

That incident is a distant memory for the Blues.

"I think if it was a Western Conference opponent we might look at it differently but these are two games ... we might never see these guys again," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Points matter more than anything right now. That's our focus right now. We're not prepared to be distracted by that right now."

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Posted On Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 2:39 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues forward Sobotka out until after Olympics

ST. LOUIS -- The news on St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka went from bad to worse Saturday after he took a spill late in a 3-1 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night.

After at first saying Sobotka would be evaluated Sunday, the Blues put Sobotka on injured reserve and said he would not be able to play for the Czech Republic at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

He will be re-evaluated in four weeks, the Blues said in a statement.

Sobotka suffered a lower-body injury when he was tripped by Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk late in the third period. Sobotka could not put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice,

Ryan Reaves will draw back into the Blues' lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous two games when the Blues (36-12-5) play host to the Nashville Predators (25-23-8) at Scottrade Center.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 2:05 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Routed by Devils last week, Blues get second crack

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues had a short memory after their last encounter with the New Jersey Devils.

However, they had no choice but to be given a stern reminder that the worst loss of the season the Blues suffered was at the hands of the Devils exactly one week ago. Instead of having revenge on their minds the Blues must look at it more as a chance for redemption when the teams play for the second and final time this season Tuesday at Scottrade Center.

The Devils (22-20-11), coming off a 7-3 loss of their own to the New York Rangers on Sunday at Yankee Stadium as part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, embarrassed the Blues 7-1 in the only loss the Blues (35-11-5) sustained on their recent four-game trip.

Instead of completely forgetting about it and wiping the slate clean, the Blues will get their chance at redemption quickly.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 2:27 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Steen excited to finally return from injury

ST. LOUIS -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau understands a thing or two about what the St. Louis Blues are getting with the addition of Alexander Steen to their lineup Saturday.

"I think he's a big addition, and 24 goals doesn't hurt adding to your lineup," Boudreau said. "It solidifies, I think, a lot of their lines. Now they can have back their 1-2-3-4 instead of mixing and matching [lines] a little bit."

Steen will return for the Blues (32-9-5) after missing 11 games with a concussion. He skated on a top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie at the team's morning skate Saturday.

"I took it at my own pace," said Steen, who has 38 points in 35 games. "I feel like we're ready to go. I think everybody who [returns] has to be 100-percent confident. It's not just the way I play. Once you're in you've got to go back in and play."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 2:14 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings' Jones hoping for permanent NHL job

ST. LOUIS -- It was inevitable that Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was going to get healthy again from a groin injury. There was going to come a time when the organization was going to have to make a choice: Ben Scrivens or Martin Jones as Quick's backup.

And with the Kings' trade of Scrivens to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Los Angeles placed its faith in Jones, who marked his NHL arrival by winning his first eight starts.

Jones, who is 8-3-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average and .950 save percentage in 11 games, was recalled from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League on Wednesday and hopes that this time it's for good.

"I'm happy to be back here but you never know what can happen," Jones said. "I don't want to take anything for granted. I've just got to make sure I continue to work hard, continue to build up my game and win some hockey games up here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 1:59 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Polak to play for Blues, Lapierre to IR

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues' revolving injured-reserve door took a couple more turns Tuesday.

Defenseman Roman Polak, who's missed 10 games with a fractured left ankle sustained Dec. 19 against the Montreal Canadiens, will return to the lineup when the Blues host the slumping Phoenix Coyotes.

"I feel pretty good out there," Polak said. "I had a good practice, good back-skating with the coaches. [Monday] was my second full practice with the team and I felt pretty good."

With Polak coming off injured reserve, center Maxim Lapierre was placed on IR retroactive to Friday with a lower-body injury sustained late in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blues recalled forward Dmitrij Jaskin from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League to take Lapierre's spot on the roster.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 2:47 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues getting healthier with Backes, Leopold back

ST. LOUIS -- The list of walking wounded for the St. Louis Blues got a lot shorter in time for an inter-conference matchup Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

David Backes will make his return after sitting out the past three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, and defenseman Jordan Leopold, who has been out of the lineup since Nov. 7 with ligament damage in his right hand, will mark his return to the lineup after missing the past 26 games.

Backes, who's missed five of the previous eight games with two separate upper-body injuries, has skated regularly the past five days. He has 16 goals and 30 points in 35 games.

"Better than yesterday, and that's a good sign," Backes said when asked how he's feeling. "Hopefully good enough to find my way into the lineup. It's always a fluid situation, but feeling good and hopefully that's the case.

"It's tough. It's not something I'm accustomed to. It's tough watching the games, but the guys have been putting it on the line and winning games and you love to see that. They've done a phenomenal job, different guys stepping up, different guys taking on different roles and responsibilities and flourishing in them. You love to see that we do have that depth when guys do go down."

Leopold's original anticipated time frame was eight weeks from the time he had hand surgery, which was a few days after his injury occurred. But with the elevated play of Ian Cole and Carlo Colaiacovo as the Blues' third defensive pairing, the Blues were able to give Leopold, 33, some more time.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 8:01 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Backes out, Stewart in for Blues vs. Kings

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues captain David Backes will miss his third straight game Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Backes was injured late in the third period Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks and will miss his fifth game in the past eight. Backes is second on the Blues with 16 goals and tied with Jaden Schwartz with 30 points behind Alexander Steen (36) and T.J. Oshie (33).

Chris Stewart, who took a puck to the mouth in the first period against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, was in the lineup Thursday night.


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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 2:26 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Backes, Stewart game-time decisions

ST. LOUIS -- The injury/illness carousel for the St. Louis Blues continues to swirl, with players coming into the lineup while others step out.

The Blues (27-7-5), who host the Los Angeles Kings (25-12-4) Thursday at Scottrade Center, are in a holding pattern concerning captain David Backes (upper body) and Chris Stewart (mouth). Both will be game-time decisions.

Backes has missed the past two games and four of seven with unrelated upper-body injuries. He's taken part in practices the past four days.

"It's better every day," Backes said. "I feel pretty good without contact. The next thing is making sure that when I get hit I can be a force out there rather than just be a hockey player not touching anyone.

"We're working on it and we'll see how it progresses. [Wednesday] was a testing phase and making sure we're all right. Everything is going according as planned. Hopefully I'll be in the lineup very shortly."

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Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff