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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:15 PM

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

Blues bracing for angry, motivated Rangers

ST. LOUIS -- First, it was a 9-2 thumping against the San Jose Sharks, followed by a 6-0 drubbing against the Anaheim Ducks. Outscored 15-2 in their last two games, the New York Rangers come into St. Louis a wounded animal to face a blazing Blues team in search of their first 4-0-0 start in franchise history.

So with two teams in different ends of the spectrum, is there a clear-cut advantage?


The Blues play host to the Rangers Saturday night, but the home side is not taking a proud franchise for granted.

"It doesn't matter if it's the Rangers or Blackhawks or whoever it is, they've been humbled like that for a couple games, you know coming in they're going to be hungry," Blues left wing Brenden Morrow said of the Rangers. "[Rangers coach Alain] Vigneault has probably been putting them through the paces and they're probably going to be an angry bear or wounded animal and sometimes those are the worst types to find."

So instead of focusing on what the Rangers haven't done well in the previous two games, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has stressed the point of focusing on New York's lone victory: a 3-1 triumph Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

"When we talked about New York, we watched them beat L.A., and that's the game we're focusing on," Hitchcock said. "To me, you've got an eastern team learning what it's like to play out west, not fun.

Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 4:10 PM

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

Blackhawks, Blues looking to heat up rivalry

ST. LOUIS -- Maxim Lapierre has seen the rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks from a different perspective as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Blackhawks fans might consider the Detroit Red Wings their main rival. But from a players' perspective, it was the Canucks. And the hatred was clear from both sides.

Now playing for the Blues after signing a two-year contract over the summer, Lapierre feels like he could be witnessing the rebirth of the St. Louis-Chicago rivalry.

The two Central Division foes will renew acquaintances tonight when the Blues host the Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET as NBCSN's featured "Wednesday Night Rivalry" matchup.

Lapierre knows all about rivalries with Chicago.

Posted On Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 2:06 PM

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

Whitney returns to St. Louis after being cut by Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Whitney's unfortunate exit from the St. Louis Blues turned into another opportunity with the Florida Panthers.

The 30-year-old defenseman, who came to the Blues in a professional tryout, was the victim of a numbers game and the obvious lowering of the NHL salary cap this season. It's something that hit many veteran players trying to find a job this year. But Whitney's strong camp in St. Louis helped him parlay that showing into a job with the Panthers, who signed him to a one-year contract on Sept. 29.

Whitney, who was in the Blues' locker room just last week, returns to face the group he barely got to know when the Panthers and Blues square off today at Scottrade Center.

"It's a business," Whitney said. "I had a real good time in camp here, a lot of good guys over there. But I was lucky enough to get signed by Florida after camp ended. I thought I had a good camp, so it's good to be here and getting to know these guys quick on the go because we're playing. It's a good group of guys and it's a fun room to be a part of."

Whitney is still adapting to the Panthers' system, but he's still grateful for the experience he earned in St. Louis' training camp.

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 6:39 PM

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

Morrow, with visa, will play in Blues opener

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will have veteran left wing Brenden Morrow in the lineup when they face the Nashville Predators on thursday in the season opener for each team.

Morrow's status for the game was in question because he was having issues completing the proper paperwork for his working visa. The Carlyle, Saskatechewan native signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Blues on Sept. 23 but could not gain access to a working visa until he had a signed contract.

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:20 PM

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

Projected lineups for Predators, Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Thursday at Scottrade Center will see the St. Louis Blues open the season against the visiting Nashville Predators.

Predators defenseman Seth Jones will celebrate his 19th birthday by making his NHL debut. The fourth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, it's expected he'll be on the second defense pair, alongside Mattias Ekholm.

The Blues lineup is a bit of a question, as immigration issues could keep Brenden Morrow from making his debut with the team. If Morrow receives his work visa in time, he could start at left wing on the second line. If he can't go, Magnus Paajarvi could be in that spot.

Here are the lineups each team could use Thursday:

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:14 PM

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

Jones' birthday present is NHL debut for Predators

ST. LOUIS -- For Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones, the best birthday present will come Thursday, when he steps onto the ice in an NHL game for the first time.

Jones, who turned 19 Thursday, will be in the lineup for the Predators, who open the season against the St. Louis Blues.

The No. 4 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, who will skate alongside Mattias Ekholm, said he has envisioned this day since walking up to the podium on draft day.

"Yeah, a little bit," Jones said Thursday. "I feel really good though. It's obviously a great thing that I'm here. I'm looking to move forward every day, and it starts today.

"I know [the NHL] is going to be very intense. I got a taste in preseason and I know it's coming a little bit. You don't really know until you get out there."

Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 3:57 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - Training Camp 2013 blog

Blues' Pietrangelo to miss start of training camp

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- There was no common ground to be found between the St. Louis Blues and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, despite the fact the two sides met well into the night Tuesday.

So when the Blues open training camp on Thursday, Pietrangelo will be a noticeable absentee from camp.

That's the news general manager Doug Armstrong gave Wednesday on the fourth pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, who is represented by Don Meehan of Newport Sports.

"He's not in training camp," Armstrong said of the 23-year-old Pietrangelo. "We've worked in earnest with his representatives trying to get him into training camp. We've talked about a lot of different options as far as a number of years.

"[Tuesday] night, we gave it a last-ditch kick at the can around eight or nine o'clock at night and it didn't hold. So from this point forward, he's not in camp and we treat him like an injured player. ... If he misses a week, a month, a year, we're not really sure, but he's not here now and we have to move forward."

Posted On Wednesday, 07.31.2013 / 8:20 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013 Summer with Stanley blog

Bollig returns to roots with Stanley Cup in St. Louis

ST. PETERS, Mo. -- Born and raised in suburban St. Louis, there are several places Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig could spend his day with the Stanley Cup.

Sure, there are favorite local establishments Bollig has frequented in his time, but more obvious would be the Gateway Arch, St. Louis' greatest landmark, along with Busch Stadium, home of Bollig's favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sure enough, Bollig was able to get to both Wednesday, but two other special spots didn't involve anything lavish. For the 26-year-old, spending Wednesday with children in the hospital, as well as visiting the place where his hockey roots were built, was enough satisfaction.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues, Kings ready for best-of-3 series

ST. LOUIS -- Every game has been decided by one goal. Each team feels like it could have won all four. This is how tight the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings has gotten.

The Blues had the early momentum by winning the first two at Scottrade Center. The Kings grabbed it back with a pair of victories in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.

It sets up Game 5 in St. Louis on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CNBC, CBC), where the Blues have won eight in a row, and the Kings have lost eight straight on the road. On the flip side, the defending Stanley Cup champions have won nine in a row at home.

So what can be made of the series so far? It's everything everyone cooked it up to be.

"It's been like, 'Who's got control of anything right now?'" Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They got momentum off the game [Monday]. I don't think they got momentum off of Game 3. We probably deserved a better fate in [Game] 3, but they took the game [Monday]. They were better than we were. They won a lot of puck battles that we'd been winning before. They dialed it up. There's another level out there. It's our job now to answer the level.

"We got home ice, we've earned it. It's a best-of-3 now. We'll see where it goes. It's been very intense, hard hockey. They went up in a gear [Monday] that we're going to have to find an answer for."

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 6:31 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues, Kings fighting for every inch

LOS ANGELES -- One thing that's been determined in this Western Conference Quarterfinals series between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings: the real estate is limited.

With a grand total of seven goals scored in the first three games of the series, Monday night's Game 4 shouldn't see goals scored in droves.

The Kings have certainly done their job by limiting the Blues to four goals in the series, but the Blues' stinginess goes back to when the team went on this current 14-4-0 run. In 18 games, the Blues have allowed 25 goals, or an average of 1.39 goals per game. Take away two of those games in which they've allowed nine goals, the Blues are allowing 16 goals in 16 games, or one per contest. That one goal per game falls right in line with the three goals the Blues have surrendered in this series as well, but only lead it 2-1.

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— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
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