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Starting goalie, Brouwer pose questions for Blues

Tuesday, 08.25.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are looking for Stanley Cup Playoff success, and will look to a familiar source.

Citing the styles of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said that playing with pace and speed is the way games are won in the NHL.

"What's happened here in quick order, this League has sped up," Hitchcock said. "This League has pace like never before. ... I think internally, we can really quicken our team and make our pace a lot higher, and we're going to have to, to keep up to where the League's at right now."

Here are three questions facing the Blues entering this season:

Tarasenko, Stastny give Blues reasons for optimism

Tuesday, 08.25.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Despite Stanley Cup Playoff failure in each of the past four seasons, the St. Louis Blues don't feel they've taken steps backward.

It likely will be more difficult to qualify from the Western Conference this season, so getting off to a quick start will be pivotal to remaining at or near the top of the standings. St. Louis started last season 9-3-1, including a seven-game winning streak.

After opening at home Oct. 8 against the Edmonton Oilers, the Blues head out for their longest road trip of the season: six games, including five to Canadian cities.

"The players themselves feel like we underperformed in the playoffs from what we did in the regular season," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "There's real disappointment, and I think we're going to see a higher level of focus than we've ever seen here before from the people that this really, really matters to. I think you're going to see a whole other gear get performed by some people who don't want this to ever happen again."

Here are four reasons for the Blues to be optimistic:

Blues hope minor changes lead to playoff wins

Tuesday, 08.25.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Louie Korac - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round for the third consecutive season, there wasn't a doubt there would be change. The question was, when would it happen?

Blues fans were expecting a massive overhaul after losing to the Minnesota Wild in six games, with questions about the core leadership group and how many of them would return. Coach Ken Hitchcock's contract expired June 30, and there was question whether he would return for a fifth season.

The reigning Central Division champions shuffled the deck to an extent, with the most notable offseason move coming in a trade. The Blues traded popular forward T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals for a package that included right wing Troy Brouwer.

St. Louis Blues fantasy hockey outlook

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

As part of's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk

Tarasenko, a right wing, will be referenced as a fantasy breakout example for years to come after being taken with the 160th pick on average in Yahoo drafts and finishing with 37 goals (T-5th), 73 points (T-10th), a plus-27 (T-7th) and 264 shots on goal (T-11th). Despite missing a few games down the stretch because of injury, he was one of four players (Jamie Benn, John Tavares, and Tyler Seguin) with 35-plus goals and 35-plus assists and finished third in goals per 60 minutes (1.64) among those with 52-plus games behind Alex Ovechkin (1.93) and Rick Nash (1.83).

Blue Jackets' Johansen throws out Reds first pitch

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 10:44 PM / News

Sean McCullen - Staff Writer

Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen threw out the first pitch before the Cincinnati Reds hosted the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ballpark on Monday.

"It was great. I got to know a few of the guys," Johansen told FOX Sports Ohio. "We were just talking about the difference between the sports and things like that, and schedules and travel and those kinds of things. It's interesting how many similarities there are between us and the two sports and really every sport. First time down on a field and getting to know a few of the guys, it was a pretty cool experience today."

Oilers move rookie game to Rexall Place

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 9:26 PM / News

The annual game between Edmonton Oilers rookies and the University of Alberta has been moved to Rexall Place and will be played Sept. 16.

It was not announced if forward Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, will play for Edmonton in its home arena.

The previous 24 games in the series were played at Clare Drake Arena, the university's 2,700-seat rink. This is the final season for the Oilers at Rexall Place.

Sharks name Steve Spott assistant coach

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 3:23 PM / News

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson and Head Coach Peter DeBoer announced today that Steve Spott will serve as the second assistant coach on DeBoer's staff.

Spott, 47, most recently spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I'm excited to work with Steve again," said DeBoer. "We have a great relationship and he has grown significantly as a coach in the seven years since we last worked together. We are very fortunate he was available."

A native of Toronto, Ont., Spott spent two seasons with the Maple Leafs organization, serving as the head coach of the Maple Leafs American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Toronto Marlies in 2013-14. He led the team to a record of 45-25-2-4, winning the North Division title and earning a spot in the Western Conference Final, where the Marlies fell in seven games to the eventual Calder Cup-winning Texas Stars.

Blue Jackets want leadership from Cup-winner Saad

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 12:11 PM / NHL Insider

The Columbus Blue Jackets are expecting plenty of offense from forward Brandon Saad, who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 30 and is likely get a chance to play on the first line.

But coach Todd Richards said Monday that he expects the two-time Stanley Cup winner, who's 22, to provide leadership in the dressing room as well.

"I just want him to come in here and be Brandon Saad, first and foremost," Richards told the Blue Jackets website. "There are things he can add to this team on the ice in game situations and practice, but there's also a lot he can bring to our room. A winning attitude, confidence, knowing that you've won and know what it takes. There will be some leadership there.

Questions about Neal, Hodgson key for Predators

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Robby Stanley - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators appear to be on an upward trajectory after finishing second in the Central Division last season and with talented prospects in the pipeline.

The Predators expect to take the next step this season and become one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Here are three questions facing the Predators this season:

Growth of Forsberg, Jones has Predators optimistic

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Robby Stanley - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season after missing out the previous two, and their young talent has them optimistic about the future.

Even though the Predators play in the Central Division, arguably the toughest in the NHL, they proved last season they can compete with the League's best teams.

Here are four reasons the Predators are optimistic:

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Quote of the Day

Yeah, I guess so. That empty-netter was pretty lucky, but I'll take it.

— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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