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Blues excited to get going on Opening Night

Yeo begins first full season behind the bench tonight in Pittsburgh

by Chris Pinkert / Notes by Dan O'Neill

PITTSBURGH - Another season begins tonight in Pittsburgh, where the Blues will meet the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins at 7 p.m. CT at PPG Paints Arena (NBCSN, NBC Sports App, KMOX 1120 AM).

For the Blues, a lot has stayed the same - but a lot has changed.

Head Coach Mike Yeo begins his first full season behind the bench and Alex Pietrangelo begins his second season as the club's captain. Jake Allen is back between the pipes and looking to pick up where he left off last season where he finished with an outstanding second-half and playoff performance.

Besides that, though - there isn't much the same right now.

Brayden Schenn will make his Blues regular-season debut, and Oskar Sundqvist is expected to debut, too. Two rookies will also be playing in their first NHL regular-season game: forward Tage Thompson and Vince Dunn.

But the storyline that dominated the Blues' preseason - injuries - will extend into the regular season. Alexander Steen (hand) and Jay Bouwmeester (ankle) missed most of training camp with injuries and won't be in the lineup tonight. Patrik Berglund (shoulder) is out until December, Zach Sanford (shoulder) is out for 5-6 months and Robby Fabbri (knee) will miss the entire season.

Video: Kerber, Thomas preview opening night

But the Blues won't make excuses. The goal is the same.

"Win the hockey game," said defenseman Colton Parayko. "Get two points, get home."

"We're very excited, and I think the players are, too," Yeo said of getting the season started. "Training camp is necessary and there's a lot of work to be put in. Guys did that, but you could tell (Tuesday) there was a different energy, a different pace to practice. Everyone's excited to get going now."

SCHENN KNOWS PITTSBURGH

After spending the last six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Schenn knows a thing or two about the Penguins.

"A lot of their game revolves around (Sidney) Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin, (Phil) Kessel," Schenn said. "(We have to) try and limit those guys' chances. They're going to get chances at the end of the day, but try to limit them as much as possible and take time and space away from them. Those guys compete real hard, are strong in the battles, work hard and are tenacious on pucks. They don't make it easy on you."

Video: Schenn on making Blues debut

Schenn has played in 26 career games against the Penguins, scoring eight goals and 12 assists (20 points).

Schenn said he has looked forward to this night since joining the team on draft day trade in June.

"You circle Game 1 on the calendar. Against the Stanley Cup champions, it's going to be a great test for us tonight," he said. "Obviously there's a great team over there, but in this locker room, we're confident heading in there tonight. We're a team in here, obviously we all have the same goal: get the win at the end of the night. Hopefully we come to Pittsburgh here and get the two points."

SUNDQVIST DEBUTS, REAVES READY

Late during the first day of the 2017 NHL draft, the Blues dealt Ryan Reaves and the 51st overall pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Oskar Sundqvist and a first-round pick, which was used to draft Klim Kostin - the top-ranked European skater in the draft.

Sundqvist, who played 28 games over two seasons with Pittsburgh, is expected to center a line with Magnus Paajarvi and rookie Thompson.

"It's going to be fun, Sundqvist said of making his Blues' debut against the Penguins. "Obviously I know a lot of guys there and I have close friendships with a lot of them, so it's going to be fun to play against them for the first time."

On the other side, Reaves is itching to get a chance to play against his former teammates.

"I already told them, I'm not letting up on any of them," Reaves said. "I'm going to take two-and-a-half hours off the friendship and play some hockey, and then we'll go back to talking after that."

Blues forward Kyle Brodziak said facing Reaves is nothing new - he remembers some epic battles while he played for the Minnesota Wild.

"I know what he brings to the table," Brodziak said. "He's going to be hard to play against. He's great on the forecheck, he's relentless out there and you just have to be aware. 'Reavo' is pretty good friends with everybody, an easy guy to get along with. There's a certain respect level that I think the rest of the group has for guys like him."

BLUE NOTES

Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko will wear 'A's' on their sweater this season to support captain Alex Pietrangelo. Yeo said Schwartz will wear an 'A' tonight in Steen's absence.

St. Louis has won four of its last five season openers.

The Blues were 1-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, with each team winning on the road. Dating back to 2010-11, the Blues are 7-2-2 vs. the Penguins and 4-0-1 in their last five games in Pittsburgh.

Paul Stastny has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last six games vs. Pittsburgh.

Seven of the first nine regular-season games will be away from Scottrade Center. Under Yeo, the Blues were 14-4-1 on the road last season.

The Blues finished 3-5-0 in the preseason. Vladimir Tarasenko led the Blues with four goals in three games played. Dmitrij Jaskin, Thompson and Wade Megan each shared the team lead with Tarasenko with four points each.

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