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Blues Have Chance to Tie for Division Lead

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

OTTAWA - The NHL trade deadline can be a nerve-wrecking time for any player.

“I’ve been a victim of the trade deadline a few times. It’s one of those days you pay attention to what’s going on,” said Blues forward Scottie Upshall. “Everyone in the league is glued to Twitter. A lot of lives change. We’re happy they feel comfortable about this group to do the job and do it well.”

The Blues, who didn’t have much space under the salary cap to make moves and felt the asking price of many rental players was too high, opted to stay quiet during Monday’s deadline. The team is still battling a long list of injuries and is banking on being healthy in time for the post season.

Getting Alexander Steen (upper-body), Jori Lehtera (upper-body), Steve Ott (hamstring) and Brian Elliott (lower-body) back in the next few weeks would be a similar boost to adding multiple players in a trade.

“Going in, we were hoping to stay involved in a few things,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said of Monday’s deadline. “We had set a value to the players we were looking to acquire but thought the asking price got to where we weren’t comfortable. This year, we weren’t comfortable giving up a first or second-round pick for a rental player… so we just sat this one out.”

“We just decided we’ve had great spirit all year, we’ve had a lot of adversity and we’ve found ways to get points. You can’t take away from our spirit,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “There’s real value in being a team, and that’s what we are. We’ve won together, we’ve lost together, we’ve had some big overtime wins, some big shootout wins, we’ve done a lot of things to keep ourselves afloat.

“We wanted to continue to support this team.”

FACING THE SENATORS

With no trade deadline as a distraction, the Blues have their sights set on tonight’s matchup with the Ottawa Senators (6:30 p.m., FSMW, KMOX). A win tonight could move the Blues into a three-way tie for first place in the Central Division with the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars, although Dallas has a chance for more points tonight against Nashville.

The Senators took a 3-2 overtime victory against the Blues in the last meeting between the teams (Jan. 4 at Scottrade Center) thanks to two goals from Bobby Ryan, but the Blues have collected points in seven straight games against the Senators (3-0-4).

Their last regulation loss to Ottawa was Jan. 21, 2010.

“They’re usually a quick team, especially on the power play and on their back end, too,” defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. “Their D moves the puck and they’re flying. They take chances but give up chances. We just have to make sure we stay tight and take care of the chances we get.”

REAVES RETURNS

The Blues will get forward Ryan Reaves back in the lineup after serving a three-game suspension for a hit on San Jose’s Matt Tennyson on Feb. 22.

Reaves will rejoin the fourth line with Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak.

“I’m not a very good spectator when the boys are going to battle and I’m sitting the stands,” Reaves said after the morning skate today. “I’m very excited to get back on the ice and battle with the boys.”

Reaves, who was playing a gritty, physical game before the suspension, said he’s not worried about the situation happening again.

“I know my game. I know how to hit, I know how to play the game within the boundaries,” Reaves said. There’s been 350-something games I’ve played without incident. I just go out there and don’t think about it. If I think about that, I’m not playing my game very well.”

PROJECTED LINES

Forwards

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Patrik Berglund - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - David Backes - Magnus Paajarvi

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Defense

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko

Goalie

Jake Allen

BLUE NOTES

In his return to the lineup Sunday, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had a goal, assist and a plus-3 rating against Carolina.

Robby Fabbri became just the third Blues rookie in franchise history to reach 15 goals in his first season. Patrik Berglund and Jim Campbell are the others. Fabbri has posted a team-best 10 points in 13 games since the All-Star break.

With an assist Sunday against Carolina, defenseman Colton Parayko became just the sixth rookie defenseman in Blues history to record 20 assists in his first season.

The Blues have gone 11 for 41 (26.8 percent) on the power play since the All-Star break, but they haven’t scored a power-play goal in Ottawa since Jan. 2, 2001 (Pierre Turgeon).

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