ST. LOUIS - The Blues haven’t played since Wednesday, while the Columbus Blue Jackets played an overtime game last night and then had to travel to St. Louis.
Logically, you’d think advantage: Blues.
But Ken Hitchcock said not so fast.
“They’re going to be on a high and they’re going to have great energy,” Hitchcock said of the Blue Jackets, who earned a 2-1 overtime win at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. “Our job is to wear them down and make them feel like they have played back-to-backs. Expecting them to be tired when you first start is unrealistic.”
As further proof of his point, Hitchcock uses the Blues’ last trip to Columbus as an example.
On Nov. 16, the Blues earned a 3-2 home win against a physical Winnipeg Jets club, then traveled to Columbus and played their best in the first period. Columbus weathered the storm, shut the Blues down in the final two periods and took a 3-1 victory.
“They outplayed us substantially in the last game in their building,” Hitchcock said. “They won a lot of the puck battles and puck fights that ended up allowing them to have possession. We were on our heels for most of that game. They caught us on a back-to-back off of a real physical game, now we’ve got them on back-to-back so hopefully we can have a little more energy in the game.”
“It’s important for us to get into the game, because they’re going to be in the game from the first second,” said Blues forward Magnus Paajarvi, who has six goals and five assists in 11 career games against the Blue Jackets. “We really need to get into the game early. It’s easy for them to get into the game after a back-to-back, but the fatigue level for them is more than us. We’ve got to try to utilize that and be heavy on them.”
The Blues are 28-9-2 all-time at home against the Blue Jackets (.744 win percentage), but Columbus won the last game here on March 28 with a 4-2 victory.
The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m. (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).
EDMUNDSON GETS BACK IN
Rookie defenseman Joel Edmundson will be back in the lineup tonight after missing two games as a healthy scratch.
Edmundson said watching the last two games has made him realize he has more time to make plays than he had originally thought.
“For me, that’s important on breakouts and whatnot,” Edmundson said. “I think I learned a lot from that. The last time I played in Columbus, I wasn’t too happy with my game, so tonight is going to be a good challenge for me.”
Hitchcock said he’ll be looking for Edmundson to play “hungry.”
“Bring his game out quicker,” Hitchcock said. “He’s like any other young player. When you’re not feeling it (early), you hesitate a little bit. Get his game out there, get a really physical edge to his game. The more physical he plays early in games, the better puck decisions he makes. Get out there quick, get out there hard and everything else will take care of itself.”
Getting a good start is what Edmundson plans to do.
“Saturday night in St. Louis, it’s not too hard to get up for the game,” he said. “I think the boys will be going tonight.”
In addition to Edmundson coming in for Robert Bortuzzo, it appears that Scottie Upshall will play tonight in Dmitrij Jaskin's spot.
Today’s morning skate was optional, but here’s what we’d expect the lines to look like tonight:
Steen - Stastny - Tarasenko
Fabbri - Backes - Brouwer
Paajarvi - Lehtera - Upshall
Ott - Brodziak - Reaves
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Edmundson - Shattenkirk
Gunnarsson - Parayko
Beginning with tonight’s game, doors to Scottrade Center will open 90 minutes prior to puck drop for Saturday home games. Fans can enjoy new food items, too, including smothered nachos, hand-crafted burritos, St. Louis style cheese steak and more.
Paajarvi has six goals and five assists in 11 career games against the Blue Jackets.
David Backes has 426 career points as a Blue and is one shy of tying Keith Tkachuk for seventh on the all-time list.
Kevin Shattenkirk has two goals and seven assists during his seven-game point streak, which is the second-longest active streak for a defenseman in the League (Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson has points in eight consecutive games). It’s the longest streak by a Blues defenseman since Shattenkirk had an eight-game point streak from Oct. 25 - Nov. 9, 2013.
The Blues have a perfect record when leading after one period, but that’s happened in just five of their first 23 games.