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Central: Blues try to take advantage of homestand

Saturday, 10.18.2008 / 9:00 AM / Division Notebooks

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Eric Brewer was spot on when assessing the positives and negatives of having a 7-game home stand this early in the season.

"You know what, if you're going to play a 7-game home stand, you're going to have to play a 6- or 7-game road trip at some point," Brewer told NHL.com. "Do you want to play your last 7 games on the road? I'd say no."

Technically, the Blues won't have to do that, but considering 6 of their last final 7 games of the season are on the road, what's the big difference?

Well, those last 7 games may not matter if St. Louis doesn't get off to a good start, so the Blues are taking the glass half-full approach when it comes to their current home stand, which started Thursday with a rousing 6-1 win against the Dallas Stars.

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St. Louis was 20-15-6 last season at the Scottrade Center, a place it must play better at this season. Among the 15 Western Conference teams, only the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings were worse at home than the Blues last season.

"It's not out of bounds to say you want to be a strong home team and if you are it kind of helps you play a little better on the road, too," Brewer said. "You always want teams to know they are going to have to really put forth a good emotional game when they come in to your building; that they are going to have a tough game on their hands. You just get more positive things off of that."

Even though the obvious idea is to win as many games as possible, the Blues insist they are not putting a number on the amount of points they want to gain on the home stand.

Rest assured, though, they are putting a premium on winning Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks and Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings, a pair of division rivals. The Blues also host Los Angeles, Florida, Carolina and Pittsburgh before hitting the road for 5 straight at Anaheim, San Jose, L.A., Buffalo and Chicago.

"It could be a huge part of our season," rookie defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told NHL.com. "You try not to think about how many points you can get. If we get off to a good start here it's only going to help us in the grind at the end of the season."

Toews' meeting pays off - No one could have seen the fallout coming from the Chicago Blackhawks first win of the season. Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after the Hawks beat Phoenix, 4-1, coach Denis Savard was replaced by Joel Quenneville.

While it remains to be seen if the Hawks benefit from the coaching switch, it can be assumed that they did profit from Tuesday's players-only meeting, called by their 20-year-old captain, Jonathan Toews.
"It was short and sweet and I think all the guys already were thinking what I had to say anyway," Toews told Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. "It was good just to get everyone on the same page."

The Hawks, who will play under Quenneville for the first time tonight in St. Louis, showed they were together Wednesday night. They scored 4 unanswered goals in a manner of 20:29, bridging the second and third periods to beat the Coyotes.

"For us, we have one goal right now and that's to get to .500," defenseman Brian Campbell told reporters Wednesday. "After that, we go from there. We've gotten better as we've gone on. Hopefully this (win) gives us some confidence going forward."
"It's not out of bounds to say you want to be a strong home team and if you are it kind of helps you play a little better on the road, too. You always want teams to know they are going to have to really put forth a good emotional game when they come in to your building; that they are going to have a tough game on their hands. You just get more positive things off of that." -- Eric Brewer







The bad part of Wednesday night's game was the power play struggled again. The Hawks were 0-for-6, and are now 1-for-19. The goal came on a 5-on-3 against Nashville this past Monday.

Rookie report - This week's report is all about firsts.

Just as Columbus right wing Jakub Voracek scored his first goal in his first NHL game, Derek Dorsett got into his first scrap and picked up his first fighting major in his first NHL game this past Monday. With Jared Boll on injured reserve with head and neck injuries, the Jackets may need more of Dorsett's pugilism.

Of course, as you must have heard by now, Columbus forward Nikita Filatov got his first recall from the AHL on Wednesday night because the Jackets had to put Boll on the IR. Filatov played in his first game Friday night against Nashville.

 
 
Chicago forward Colin Fraser notched his first NHL goal for his first NHL point in Wednesday's win. Fraser had played in 9 previous games, including 5 last season and 1 in 2006-07.

After sitting as a healthy scratch for 2 games, Nashville winger Ryan Jones returned to the lineup Wednesday and had his first goal on his first shot, as well as his first assist in a 6-4 loss at Dallas. Fellow winger Patric Hornqvist scored his first goal and got his first minor penalty in that loss.

Not to be outdone, St. Louis center Patrik Berglund had his first multi-point game Monday with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 win against Toronto. T.J. Oshie also had his first point in that win, an assist on Brad Boyes' goal 33 seconds into the second period.

And, lest we forget that also in Toronto, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo drew his first penalty that resulted in a suspension. Ryan Hollweg's hit from behind that knocked Pietrangelo head-first into the boards resulted in a boarding major and game misconduct. The NHL banned Hollweg for three games following the infraction.

Pietrangelo also experienced his first game from the press box as he was scratched in Thursday's win against the Stars. It is unknown if Pietrangelo was scratched because of any lingering effects from that Hollweg hit.

This and that - Predators captain Jason Arnott may try to wear a splint on his broken finger which could potentially allow him to return sooner than expected, according to John Glennon of The Tennessean. Arnott broke a finger on his right hand in Monday's win against Chicago. At the time it was reported that he'd miss 3 games. Tonight's game in Columbus is the third game since the injury. …

According to Columbus Dispatch reporter Tom Reed, who spoke Wednesday night to Filatov, the Russian winger was good friends with Alexei Cherepanov, the 19-year-old Rangers first-round pick who collapsed and died Monday during a Kontinental Hockey League game. Cherepanov was laid to rest in Omsk, Siberia just hours before Filatov was recalled by the Jackets. Filatov, of course, was unable to attend the funeral since he has been playing for the Jackets' AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. "He was a special friend and I have been reading everything I can about what happened and I have been talking to other friends in Russia," Filatov told Reed. "It is just difficult to understand; it's not possible to understand." …

The Red Wings don't seem concerned, but Henrik Zetterberg was scratched from Thursday's game against Vancouver with what they're calling a slight groin strain. Zetterberg left Wednesday's practice with tightness in his groin. Rookie center Darren Helm was called up from Grand Rapids to fill in for Zetterberg, whose status for tonight's home game against the Rangers is up in the air. The Wings, who were a League-best 29-9-3 at home last season, are 0-1-1 at Joe Louis Arena so far this season.

He said it - "If I told you we should be in 5-4, 6-5 games all year I'd be lying. I don't know if our coaches would be alive at the end of the year. Having said that, if you continue to win games, that's your aim, that's your goal. You have to take them as they come, but you have to tighten the ship up and not give up too much as well. We feel strongly we're a playoff team regardless of what anyone says." - Blues defenseman and captain Eric Brewer before St. Louis beat Dallas, 6-1, Thursday night.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com



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