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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 1:52 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blues can't afford to overlook depleted Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- For the St. Louis Blues, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs scenario in their own hands and not having to rely on outside help, two words fit the description heading into the season finale Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks: no excuses.

If the Blues (28-17-2) win, they will finish as the fourth seed in the Western Conference and have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. A regulation loss eliminates them from a possible fourth seed because the teams they're jockeying for position with (San Jose and Los Angeles, each one point back), play each other. One point Saturday gives the Blues a chance.

"It's win and move on," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "To me, regardless what happens, 90 minutes after the game we've moved onto the next event. If it ends up in a win, great, we're the four seed and we watch TV. If we don't win, we adjust accordingly. To me, you can't carry any baggage postgame."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.16.2013 / 1:30 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Stuck in goal drought, Blues give Jaskin a shot

ST. LOUIS -- In the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, the St. Louis Blues will turn to a 20-year-old who is making the jump from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League straight to the NHL.

Dmitrij Jaskin, the 41st pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, will make his NHL debut Tuesday night when the Blues face the Vancouver Canucks at Scottrade Center.

Jaskin, who joined the Blues in Nashville a week ago, has taken part in every practice and every drill thus far. And with the Blues mired in a drought of five goals in five games, going 3-2-0, coach Ken Hitchcock will insert the 6-foot-2, 196-pound right wing into the lineup and give him his opportunity.

"He looked a little off-balance taking nine days off when he first came here, and then I thought the last two days ... what convinced me to give him a chance, and I'm kind of excited to look at him, was we did a really hard down-low offensive drill yesterday," Hitchcock said of Jaskin. "It was a very difficult drill, and he scored against NHL players and it was a hard drill and he found the back of the net, he put it through the back of the net. I was really impressed. He got whacked around really good yesterday down low, and he stood his ground and was determined to put the puck in the net."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 1:44 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Kings, Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Probable lineups for Thursday night's Western Conference matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) from Scottrade Center.

KINGS

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams

Mike Richards - Tyler Toffoli - Jeff Carter

Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan


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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:47 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blues, Coyotes getting healthy before matchup

ST. LOUIS -- Both the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues are expected to get injured players back into their lineups when they meet Thursday at Scottrade Center.

For the Coyotes, defenseman David Schlemko returns after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury suffered early in a Feb. 4 game against the Minnesota Wild.

"It's been a long five-and-a-half weeks, I think," Schlemko said after the Coyotes' morning skate. "I'm definitely excited to get back in there. I think you bag-skate for three weeks straight ... reminds you how much you love the game. It'll be exciting. Probably a little bit of nerves the first couple shifts. It'll be fun to be back in there."

The Coyotes, who have won back-to-back games since losing 6-3 to the Blues one week ago, also could get center Matthew Lombardi (upper-body) back Thursday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 2:11 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Projected lineups for Tuesday's matchup between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues from Scottrade Center.

SHARKS

Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Tommy Wingels

Ryane Clowe - Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski

James Sheppard - Scott Gomez - Brent Burns

Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Adam Burish

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Brad Stuart- Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock


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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 1:04 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Redden set to make NHL return for Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The last time Wade Redden suited up in a National Hockey League uniform, it was difficult to imagine at the time it would take that roughly three years to put on a jersey again.

The 35-year-old, who signed a pro-rated one-year, $800,000 contract with the Blues last week, will make his return to the NHL when the Blues host the Nashville Predators on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET).

Redden, whose last game was in a New York Rangers uniform on April 11, 2010, is likely to skate with Alex Pietrangelo on the Blues' top pairing tonight.

The wait is finally over, and Redden is glad to put the ordeal with the Rangers behind him after spending the last two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Connecticut Whale.

"It's been a while, but I've obviously been playing still," said Redden, whose last NHL points ironically came against the Blues when he scored a goal and added an assist on March 18, 2010. "The AHL is not the same level, but it's still a pretty good league. It's obviously a lot different atmosphere and I'm looking forward to being a part of it tonight again."

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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Greene's shorthanded goal a hit in Kings' room

ST. LOUIS -- There was a buzz around the Los Angeles Kings' locker room Saturday and the last couple days in the aftermath of defenseman Matt Greene's shorthanded goal in Game 1.

"It's a little rare that he ever crosses the blue line," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty joked about Greene. "But that's what playoffs [are] about. Getting a little from every single guy on your team and to see a guy like him score in the playoffs, all of us were so happy for him and it just gave us a boost."

The Kings have three shorthanded goals [Dustin Brown with two goals and an assist has been a part of all three of them], which matches their power play output in the postseason.

"We don't want to give them any time and space," Doughty said of the PK. "If good players have that space, they're going to find the seams and the open guy backdoor for an easy tap-in. We're definitely very aggressive on the penalty kill. We're blocking shots and that's kind of the motto of our team.

"It's been working out great for us. That aggressive style makes guys on the back-end panic when guys go 100 miles an hour at them. You're going to panic with the puck a little bit and with ice conditions and stuff like that, pucks are going to bounce over your stick or whatever it may be. Brownie's been doing a great job of reading those opportunities and it's been a big part to our playoff season so far."

Greene's goal broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period and propelled the Kings to a 3-1 victory.
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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 1:42 PM

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

Projected Game 2 lineups

ST. LOUIS -- Here are the probable lineups for Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues from Scottrade Center:

KINGS
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

Forwards Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip) once again sit out. Healthy scratches include forwards Andrei Loktionov and Kevin Westgarth as well as defenseman Davis Drewiske, all of whom sat out Game 1.

BLUES
Andy McDonald - David Backes - Alex Steen
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Matt D'Agostini
Jamie Langenbrunner - Scott Nichol - B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo/Ian Cole
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jake Allen

Goalie Jaroslav Halak (lower body) is still out for Game 2 and Pietrangelo (undisclosed injury) will be a gametime decision. Healthy scratches include forwards Chris Stewart, Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter and Jaden Schwartz along with defensemen Kent Huskins and Cole will be a healthy scratch if Pietrangelo plays.
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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 3:28 PM

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

Healthy, productive Havlat adds to Sharks' weapons

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock certainly knows a thing or two about San Jose Sharks winger Martin Havlat.

Hitchcock saw plenty of Havlat when the Czech Republic native was breaking into the NHL with the Ottawa Senators. Hitchcock was coaching the Philadelphia Flyers at the time and saw a high-flying skater with big-time scoring punch.

He retouched on those points earlier in the week leading up to the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Blues and Sharks.

"I've coached against Havlat where he was the best player in every game ... it wasn't even close," Hitchcock said. "He was better than [Marian] Hossa. So I know what he can do."

Those points came to fruition Thursday night. Havlat became a thorn in Hitchcock and the Blues' side with two goals, including the game-winner in the second overtime of a 3-2 victory by San Jose, giving the seventh-seeded Sharks a 1-0 series lead.

Havlat came into the game with 28 points [12 goals, 16 assists] in his last 26 playoff games. After a tumultuous time in Minnesota, he was acquired by the Sharks before the season for this very purpose.

"Marty's a goal scorer," teammate Ryane Clowe said. "Goal scorers find ways."

Havlat found a way to open the scoring for San Jose, then ended it by taking a Clowe backhand feed and one-timing a shot from the high slot past Jaroslav Halak for the third playoff overtime goal of his career.

"I'm just trying to enjoy the time in the playoffs," said the 30-year-old Havlat, who has 21 goals and 51 points in 68 career playoff games. "I'm just trying to do my best and help my team. I think everybody else is trying to do the same thing."

Said Sharks coach Todd McLellan: "He has that reputation [of a clutch performer]. That's one of the reasons why he was acquired.

"We're very lucky that he had the type of game that he had."

It's been a tough year for Havlat, who is playing for his fourth NHL team. He missed four games at the start of the season because of offseason shoulder surgery, then missed 39 more games in the middle of the season after suffering a freak hamstring injury. He finished with a career-low seven goals and had 27 points in 39 games.

The Sharks were certainly a better team with Havlat in the lineup, going 25-11-3 with him in the lineup, 18-18-7 without him.

Havlat dressed for the final 13 games and was productive leading into the postseason, finishing with five goals and 12 points.

"It had to be taxing on him," McLellan said of Havlat. "You have to remember that he's only played 13-14 games returning from his injury. To go 4 1/2 periods -- give him credit. He managed himself well."

Sharks captain Joe Thornton called Thursday's game by Havlat "a big performance from a big-time player."

Now, with Havlat in the top-six mix for a deep and talented Sharks forward crop, San Jose becomes even more dangerous. For a team that reached the conference finals the last two seasons, that only bodes well moving forward.

"I'm just happy that I could be back before the end of the regular season and help the boys in the hunt for the playoffs," Havlat said. "Now I've played a few games before [the playoffs] and I'm happy for that.

"I got to know the boys a little more on the ice. I was ready for the first game. Now that we've made the playoffs, I'm excited to be in the playoffs."

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 1:50 PM

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

Blues sticking with Halak as Game 2 starter

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock announced after Friday's optional skate for the team that they will stay with Jaroslav Halak in goal for Saturday's Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks.

The Blues dropped the opener 3-2 in double overtime on Martin Havlat's goal.

Halak stopped 31 shots and could not be faulted for any of the three San Jose goals.

"He was like our team," Hitchcock said of Halak. "He had some real good moments and then some time, we'd like him better. He was just like our team."
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